Letting go?

Colin’s ashes were returned to us today. Yes, I paid for a private cremation.

In the old days, people used to bury their pets, as far as I recall. Back then I didn’t have a cat or dog, so I don’t know how it would have been handled. I can’t remember what happened to our deceased budgies, but I imagine they went into the minute garden.

Once, when I arrived to visit my parents a year or so before my mother’s death, I noted, upon entering, that the budgie cage was empty and sighed. My mother said “I’ve left him for you to deal with.” So in the morning I went out with a trowel and made a small hole for my little friend Chibbie:(

Mr Katz wrote a post recently about this very subject.

His approach to the whole thing is undoubtedly more sensible and far healthier.

Alas, I am not able to handle things quite so well.

We can’t bury pets on my property because below 2 inches the ground is pure shale. Solid rock.

Cremation is not the only option, as I discovered recently when we had rabid raccoons to dispose of.

Somehow I had thought someone ought to be interested in whether or not we had rabid animals around, but I was told “double-bag them and put them in the trash.”

This was deeply offensive to me, but there was no alternative. Apparently some people dispose of their pets the same way. If you don’t have the funds for a cremation, I suppose that is what you do.

Of course you don’t have to opt for private cremation.

All I really wanted was Colin’s ashes but we were presented with a whole bag full of carefully prepared items that I scarcely looked at.

The pet-death industry must be into the multi-millions these days.

It started with little wooden boxes for the ashes accompanied by an impression of the footprint.

Having been given them, I of course kept them and felt obliged to somehow preserve them respectfully, but I have so many now, if I were to display them openly, my house would be a pet cemetery.

That would be a bit morbid. I look at my current cats as a sort of tribute to my past pets.

A few years ago I was introduced to the real pet-death industry, where you can send away a small portion of ash to be incorporated into an ornament, pendant or any of a number of items.

Depending where you shop, and how much you spend, many of these items are exquisite.

Yes, I began quite a collection. I rationalized it by telling myself that I really don’t spend a whole lot on myself and that I was supporting someone by giving them employment.

My sun catchers hang in a window and defray the light around the room. The memories are not maudlin, they are happy.

And when it’s windy, I hear the little voices in the wind chimes outside.

For the past six years, I’ve worn a pendant around my neck that contains a small amount of Panther’s ashes. Am I weak-minded? Well, we all know the answer to that. So the pendant was a comfort to me and Panther was one of those really special pets. He may not be in the pendant, but he is certainly in my heart.

These days, I think I am past needing ornaments and pendants, but I did purchase a wind chime for Colin.

I’ll add his paw print to my collection.

I’ve always known what I want done with the ashes when my own time comes. I was faced with this when my beloved aunt died.

Cleaning out her apartment, I suddenly came to the shelf with all the dog ashes. I was deeply sad at the time and terribly stressed and in that condition I seem to go into a zone where I function like a robot.

In that instance, I think it was a good thing. In the kitchen there was a large glass jar of flour which I emptied and washed. I then decanted all the dog ashes into it.

My aunt was being buried in a Christian cemetery and I wasn’t sure how they would feel about animal remains, so I consulted the funeral director who very sensibly said he would lay the jar in the coffin before the burial.

I knew that was what she would have wanted.

My remains will not be in a cemetery. My ashes are to be combined with those of all the cats and two bunnies and we will all be scattered together.

The ornaments? There is a wonderful pet cemetery at Best Friends in Kanab, Utah, called Angel’s Rest.

There are many wind chimes there and people lay memorial stones and other items there. Maybe there will still be room.

Angel’s Rest is a very spiritual place.

Is it better not to hold on so hard to memories of our pets? I don’t disagree with Mr Katz. It would be better to maintain some sort of perspective. Curiously, I’ve been able to do it with people but never with animals.

Maybe because I’ve loved them more.

Colin’s wind chime. Farewell, dear boy.

2 thoughts on “Letting go?

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words on my latest post. Losing a beloved pet is always so hard and painful. Just like you, I lost so many cats over the years and I find some comfort in the beautiful memories of them.

Leave a Reply