Those of you who have had or still have, a pet that warms your heart and makes you smile will know this feeling.
I train people to be Pet death doulas and this only helps to expand my heart further to know there are so many people who want to do this valuable work.
The death, (I won’t say loss as while there is physical loss there are so many lived memories that truly sustain me), of my animals, dogs, cats, fish, lizards, birds and ants. Yes ants, as a child I had ant farms and even then as an 8 year old believed in open plan living for my ants. This caused havoc in my home needless to say.
I know right, I thought of them as ‘my ants’.
The pain, the discomfort, and the realization I won’t hold their warm bodies again. Not the fish or ants of course.
I had to learn how to honour these beings who gave me so much joy.
This honouring has helped me as I crawled through the initial grieving, this gathering of memories aided me as I embraced their innocence, their dependence on me and my dependence on them.
The tears and the laughter only served to start the healing. Sadness is not wrong but a moment of vulnerability that recognises our deep human connection with our companions. Find your people and ask for their support.
Being a death doula helped me as I redesign the rituals and ceremonies around their dying and time of death.
My animals have been great teachers on impermanence and death, to just sit and be with them is mainly all they want.
I gather photographs, stories, snippets of hair, and grasses from their favourite sniffing places, their favourite blanky to shroud them in. I’m sure you can think of ‘ingredients’ to add to the service.
In your heart you truly know your companion and how to honour them.
Because there are no rules this just opens the possibilities wide.
You can have a private ceremony or open it up to your people and their companions.
Some of my animals are buried in my garden, while those who were cremated, I shared their ashes with the ocean.