Pet Burials: How to Honor the Furry Members of Your Family
Looking into the eyes of our adoring pet family member, we often feel deep gratitude for our mutual bond and trust. When Jasper gives me that look, I feel like the luckiest person to have him in my life, my heart opens wide and I want to squeeze him until he groans.
When our pet is happy, we feel happy. When they are fearful, we move to provide comfort. When we are fearful and sad, they provide comfort for us. When they become ill, we worry, we tend and we love. When they die, we are often at a loss as to how to express this deep connection that has grown through the years. Our grief and pain arise, because this being has been part of our family – a daily part of our lives. It can feel difficult to carry on, go to work and get on with life. It takes time to adjust, as it does when our human family members and friends die. People connect with their pet friends in different ways. People will also react to a pet’s death in varying ways. Honor how you process the death of your pet. Allow yourself the time and space to experience death and the absence of your pet’s tender touch in your own way.
The day of Grady’s death, his two mamas put him in a red wagon and took him up and down the street to say goodbye to his friends. He enjoyed creamy coffee, ice cream, lots of petting, treats, and much love. I imagine he died with a smile in his heart. After he was euthanized, his neighbors, pet sitter, doggie sister Maggie, and friends had plenty of time to come to see him in his own home where stories of his life were shared. When his humans were ready, they loaded him in the family car and drove him to Carolina Memorial Sanctuary. They were escorted by friends – the people who loved Grady and wanted to be of support and help with his burial. Our Steward Anthony, had already dug his grave. My 18 year old cat friend, Agnes had also died and she was buried next to Grady.
These were our first pet burials and the first burials at the Sanctuary. We had candles, flowers and readings. There were tears and laughter. At Barkwells, our neighbor at the Sanctuary and next to the Pet Memorial Garden, there were dogs running around playing with their families. It was a tender and sweet occasion to be closing the life of our pets while there was so much life going around us.
Grady was buried with his favorite toy and a dog treat. Jasper wasn’t thrilled with the idea of burying that dog treat.
Jasper was unafraid of the process. He was quite curious and willing to help, as were the two children who grew up next door to Grady. Grady and Agnes were each wrapped in a shroud before they were buried. All of us participated in shoveling earth on their graves. It was a healing and rewarding experience. We were able to give to our pets, even in their death.
It turns out that Grady was famous. His mama, Marianne, entered his picture and won 1st place in the First Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest, category – ‘Natural World’. Here’s the winning picture.
Carolina Memorial Sanctuary is a whole-family cemetery, offering pet burial near Asheville and Hendersonville with our very own pet cemetery area, the Pet Memorial Garden. For those who have purchased a spot with us in one of the other burial habitats, the family pet may be buried next to their human. It is also possible to have the cremated remains of a pet buried beside or along with the body or cremated remains of their human.
Memorial gifts from the parents of pets who are buried at the Sanctuary have allowed us to begin the process of native plant restoration in the Pet Memorial Garden.
In loving memory of our pets who are now residing in the Pet Memorial Garden at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary: Grady, Agnes, Romeo, Wally, Emily, Sprite, and Lola. Thank you for your generous spirit and joy. We continue to hold you in our hearts.
Contact us to learn more about pet burial or to schedule a tour.