Useful Phrases to Lend Support

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Since 2006, I’ve built up a large library of useful phrases and sentiments to share with clients during euthanasia appointments. Knowing the exact time to offer them can be challenging, especially since you won’t know the full context of the situation until you are engaged in it, but take a moment and picture yourself with your pet patient and devoted family. Some of the phrases are specific to grief support while others speak to more logistical factors. Set the right tone for yourself (my words are heavy with reverence and respect). I hope you find this useful in your euthanasia communication. Note that in place of pronouns, I encourage you to use the pet’s name as much as possible to deepen the connections.

In Support of Crying

  • We all need someone to cry for us. It’s the sign of a life well lived.
  • You honor her with your tears.

In Witnessing Active Signs of Death

  • She is embracing the change.
  • She is releasing energy.
  • He is passing now and knows you are with him.
  • His movements are very natural and normal. These can be expected even with natural death.
  • Muscle fasciculations = energy release
  • Agonal breaths = reflexive, sign of the transition, energy release

Describing the Process to Children

  • Pre-euthanasia sedation: I am going to give her a medicine to help her to sleep. It is a medicine only for our animals. Never for humans. It goes under her skin and will help her to rest.
  • Euthanasia itself: The second medicine, also just for our animals, never for us, will be given under the skin too. This is the special medicine that will help her to die; this is why we are here. She is dying on her own and my job is to help her along with that.

In Preparing to Give an Injection

  • I’m going to lay my hands on him now to get him used to my touch.
  • Her comfort is important to me. Please let me know if she is tender anywhere and I will avoid those areas.

Remaining Present for Euthanasia

  • How do you feel about remaining present for his passing?
  • All are welcome to be present, and this is safe space for you too. If you feel you need to step out of the room, you may do so at any time. He is in good hands and will always feel your love.
  • Let me describe how I’ll be supporting her so you know more of what to expect.

In Handling Payment

  • You have the choice to handle financials with me now over the phone or during the appointment. Which would you prefer?
  • If it’s ok with you, let’s take care of our financials now so we can focus our full attention with him.

With Potential Dysthanasia

  • Thank you for allowing me to take my time in helping him.
  • Her passing was different than expected. Let’s explore this so we understand what happened.
  • We all learn from his passing today, and this learning will be part of his legacy.

Additional Phrases of Support

  • Thank you for loving her so deeply.
  • How blessed he was to have such a loving family.
  • You take on great personal pain today to let her go.

Everything we express should feel like a verbal hug. We hope to convey to our clients a sense of safety and stability during a very delicate time. You are sure to have favorite support phrases that carry you through. Share them with others and together, we will build a language of love. The Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy welcomes your suggestions on how to thoughtfully support clients.

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Kathleen Cooney

DVM, CHPV, CCFP Founder, Director of Education for the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy
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