Forever Remembered Pet Cremation and Memorial Services

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Please stop telling me how to grieve

The sorrow and sadness that accompanies a loss can be so overwhelming that seeing the light from the place of despair can feel like an impossible task. When tears follow every waking memory of a loved one or pet that has passed, regardless of whether a person is in public or private, judgement from a supposed friend or acquaintance can be damaging. "Why are you still crying? He was just a dog," or "She died last year, haven't you gotten over it yet?"  Insensitive comments such as these only serve to push the griever into a lower place of self worth and depression. 

Some survivors are able to emerge from the pit of despair in a few weeks, while others may take months or years. When complicated grief takes over and a person's physical well being is affected, a professional approach should be sought. Most people however,  just need time and space and sometimes a new focus.

Please stop telling me how to grieve and how to feel. Your silence is important.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Lesson From The Eyes

I often find myself looking at my dogs and noticing their expressions. Their eyes hold expectant wonder when I walk through the door with nothing but unconditional love. Many things can be seen through the eyes of a pet, or a person for that matter. Anger, tiredness, anxiety and wanting, to name just a few. There is that look of love however, that is distinguishable from all others. That look that says "I want to be with you always. No matter how you are feeling or what you are going through, I will be by your side." 

Perhaps we could learn a lesson from the devoted nature of our pets. There comes a time when the arduous burden of every day life must be cast off and recognition of the simple things comes full circle into the present.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What's so important about a higher standard of care?

I have often been asked "What does it mean to have a higher standard of care?" It means that we treat every pet that we are given the honor for which to care, the dignity and respect of a completely private cremation. "Semi - private cremation" is not completely private cremation. "Group or communal cremation" is not private cremation. Private cremation means only one animal at a time being put into the cremation chamber, and the cremains of that animal being collected and gathered when the cremation is done. 

Having a higher standard of care in any line of business, may mean less income. However, what a customer will always know when they choose a business with a higher standard of care is a receipt of  the utmost attention and detail in the service they are given with no lingering doubts as to whether or not they should have gone elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Memory is Mine

When we have lost a loved one or a pet, sometimes certain things make us remember a particular memory that we shared. It may be the smell of apple pie that reminds us of Mom, or the smell of the ocean that reminds us of Grandpa who loved to go ocean fishing. Sometimes just the wind blowing on our face can bring a wave of remembrance of a departed one, which may also bring with it the feeling of loss and sadness.

Whatever the memory that is attached to the loss, the fact remains that it is yours. The memory belongs to you and you are the master controller of how it affects your overall well being. 

That which is owned by the self, cannot be so easily manipulated by others unless we allow the intervention to mentally change the foundational aspect of the memory. A smell, a touch, a taste, a sight or a sound heard is attached to that memory which controls how we emotionally respond when the memory is reproduced in our mind.

Whatever your memory of a deceased loved one may be, it is yours, to keep and to hold for as long as you wish.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A terrible year

"Man, what a year. My mother died a few months ago, my cat died last month and now my dog passed away in his sleep last night," she said to me with tears on the phone. "Why does everything have to happen all at once?" 

What could I say to her that would make her feel any better? How could I justify so many losses in such a short period of time? I felt helpless, which is normal for me in my profession, but sometimes I get frustrated because there really is no answer as to why death seems to happen "all at once." 

Some often say that death happens in "3's". Is this true? Loss can come in many forms. It could be in the form of a lost job, an unexpected divorce, or the news of a terminal illness. Loss can be felt in many ways and often it seems like devastating things happen one right after another.

How does one cope? What kind of advice can be given that will help to ease the pain? I often find myself patting someone on the back and just being silent and allowing them to vent. It's really not much, but for those who are hurting it could be just what is needed to make it through the rest of the day.

It's hard not to pick up the burdens of others as if they were our own. We wish that we could help them carry their load and make things easier, but the reality is that each person must go through life one day at a time, somehow managing to find the inner strength to keep going.

Silence and a listening ear can be the balm that eases the pain of loss. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Let it go

It's not easy being a funeral director, especially when families are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Often the grief that is experienced for a pet is the same if not more than what is experienced for a human. I am often struggling as to how to help ease the hurt without sounding cliché or insincere.

There is no "normal grief experience." Some may not grieve until weeks later when the shock of the whole ordeal begins to wear off and the reality of the loss hits like a ton of bricks. Some may be able to grieve for a short time while others may take years to not cry at the very thought of the event.

Grief comes in many forms and no matter what type of psychological label it is given, the reality is that it hurts. How a person grieves should not be up for scrutiny but rather accepted as indicative of his or her own personal grief response mechanism.

Our American culture has conditioned us to grieve in a socially acceptable manner that does not intrude upon the perimeter of another person's space. Grieving in the closet where mournful tears of sadness are kept behind closed doors is that which the American society accepts as the norm. When loud cries of loss are heard across the room our attention is often taken to the place where we are made to feel uncomfortable and may even have to leave the room in order to gather our prudent, stoic countenance.

I challenge those with this mentality to refrain from placing judgement on those who may not have the "normal grief response."

Let it go.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why am I still so sad?

"Sugar passed away 2 months ago, and I am still so heartbroken. Why am I still so sad?" My heart went out to Sugar's owner as I listened to her reflect on the many memories they shared. "The cats miss her too," she said in between tears. "The cats kept looking for her and would meow like they were upset."

Finding the right words to say to those who are grieving is often difficult. The old cliches that promise  "things will get better in time" are untrue and lacking in emotional validation. The reality is that things really don't get better in time, and often seem magnified as the memories shared with a beloved pet or loved one are overshadowed by that haunting dark day when they took their last breath.

Is grief ever easy? Does it ever get to the point to where it doesn't hurt so much? The answers to these questions lie with each survivor and their own personal grief experience. Some days are easier than others. Some days you may just want to be alone and secure your own personal grieving space.

It is perfectly normal to feel lingering episodes of sadness as the place where love was so easily filled is now hollow and void.

It is okay to be sad.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Box

Here at Forever Remembered,  I try to make each experience unique and individual for each family. There are many urns that can be chosen, however I decorate each box to try and suit the personality of the pet. 

We have a collection of simple pine boxes that were made here in the USA and can be painted with various themes. This particular box was painted with trees and leaves and then finished with a nice light brown stain. I wasn't too impressed with my artwork, for I am not a professional artist by any means, but I do put my heart into each piece.

It was late in the afternoon when Roxy died. I brought him back to the crematory with the family following me, similar to a mini funeral procession. He was 18 years old, the oldest dog that I have received so far. He was a permanent fixture in this family and his death was very upsetting for everyone.

The family came in and as soon as the mother saw the box with the trees, she knew that was the one for Roxy. "The trees and leaves on this box remind me of the pretty leaves that I used to bring my father when I was a little girl," she said. 

I cremated Roxy that evening and delivered the cremains in the decorated pine box the same night. It was nice to be able to bring some comfort to this grieving family for they knew that not only was he cremated privately and with dignity, but the box had a personal touch that would be a constant reminder of his passing.

Sometimes old memories bring comfort for new sadness. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I was there till the end

Pet owners who are experiencing overwhelming grief because of the loss of a pet, are often surprised at how emotional they become. "I know he was just a dog, but he was a member of our family." I often reassure them that these feelings are completely natural because their pet faithfully waited with anticipation for them to come home, was always ready for playtime and was that reliable friend when life brought unexpected hardships.

"I was there until the end," he said, as he kneeled down beside the Yellow Labrador Retriever who had been his faithful companion for 13 years.  "She waited by the door for me everyday for 8 hours until I came home. Being with her as she took her last breath was the least that I could do for her."

She died in his arms that night.

It was a long drive home as I contemplated the events of the evening. Sometimes helplessness is overwhelming for me, in that I wish I could make the loss easier for families. The only consolation that I can give them is to just take each day one at a time, and to focus on the memories and the joy that was shared, and that I will take care of their pet with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Maybe one day I won't have to hold back the tears with each death call. I don't see that as being any time soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

They know

When a dog dies, not only are the owners filled with grief, but the other pets in the home also feel the loss. Once when I went to pick up a Golden Retriever, her buddy, who was also a Golden Retriever, acted as though he knew why I was there. When I stooped down to pet the beautiful old gal, he started crying and voicing his sadness as if he were trying to tell me, "Why? Why doesn't she get up? Why doesn't she play with our favorite chew toy? Why isn't she breathing?" I couldn't help but choke back a tear as I went to gently scoop her up and place her in the willow casket. He just watched. His eyes were  obviously heavy with sadness as his dear old friend of 12 years was being carried out the door.

When I placed her in the black van and closed the door, he sat near the van as if he was standing guard. I looked at him and promised that I would take good care of her and that I was sorry that he had lost his dear friend. He just looked at me and whined.

Not only do pet owners grieve, but animals grieve too. I am sure of it.