The Stress of Tough Decisions

Today I had to make a tough decision. It was tough because there were many variables involved. I know that some people will argue that the decision I made was “wrong” and I cannot be the one to choose when to end an animal’s life. There will be those that support my decision to end suffering. Whatever the opinion is, the fact of the matter is that it was one of the toughest decisions I had to make.

What I learned is that in making tough decisions it’s important to have all the facts. It’s important to know what all possible options are and what entails, the “good”, the “bad”, and the “ugly”. And it’s not a judgment. It’s more of a collection of pieces of information (factual) to make an informed choice.

M&M was a soulful cat who was a companion for 18 years. In fact, 18 years and 1 day. I had to make the tough decision to let her go today. She had these deep eyes that mesmerized and a face, that many people told me as well, was still kitten-like.   Every moment with her was joy. That’s a unique experience in of itself. I don’t know many personalities that provide joy in every interaction one has. That’s pretty darn unique. And because of that unique joy and being she was in my life, it's an extremely sad day today.

She wasn't walking Monday and I knew some tough decisions were coming. So I took her to the vet to see what they were going to say and as I suspected, there wasn't anything they were able to do. It was the only option. I didn't want her to suffer anymore. And I am sad. Very. I am missing her. 18 years! That's a long time and of course, the pain runs deep.

And this is only one fact of the situation. The point is, that tough decisions are stressful. There are so many facts that come into play and so many emotions that influence our perception of those facts, let alone the emotions themselves.  For me, the bottom line was that M&M was suffering and she was in pain. And there was nothing more to do for the pain, and there was a decision for the suffering.  And while that was a tough decision, it was a decision that needed to be made. And I hope M&M will agree.



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    I have been in this same situation twice with two cats that lived to be 18. You have my sympathy.

  • Thanks, Regan, for your thoughts.

  • Oh, I'm so sorry Serena. Sending you good thoughts.

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    Dr. Serena Wadhwa

    Serena Wadhwa, Psy.D., LCPC, CADC, received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from ISPP-Chicago, specializing in health psychology. Dr. Wadhwa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, has a Master’s in Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is the Director of TriQual Living Center (, providing education and therapy on addiction/recovery and chronic stress, burnout and compassion fatigue. She provides individual therapy at the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital Outpatient Group Practice and is an assistant professor/program coordinator at Governors State University, as well as adjunct faculty at a couple community colleges. Dr. Wadhwa works in a variety of roles as a consultant, presenter, trainer, lecturer, author, and contributor to ChicagoNow. She has presented on various topics in the Midwest and published various articles on topics relating to stress, addiction, and health. She also develops activities for a variety of psycho-educational lectures, and has several published. She is also a member of several professional organizations. She has a book on "Stress in the Modern World" coming out in 2014 and several e-books this year. Her latest project is an Internet Radio Show, Moving Forward: Wellness One Step at a Time.

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