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Posts tagged ‘animal remembrance’

As we bid this year adieu

My heart brims over with gratitude to the families I’ve served the past year during times of anticipating, acknowledging and honoring loss with custom ceremony. As a Life-Cycle Celebrant┬« creating ceremonies at the end of life, I’ve held space for quiet and personal sunrise and sunset rituals. I’ve helped co-create festive gatherings to celebrate full and mature lives, as well as bittersweet remembrances to honor lives those closest felt were altogether too brief.

One consistently true thread – as I bear witness to the loss of people and animal companions alike – is this:

loss as a universal human experience

brings us closer to the fullness of who we are

AND who we may become.

(Or as John O’Donohue more eloquently puts it in the blessing below: “nearer to our invisible destination.”)

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When we love, we open ourselves to impermanence and it’s omnipresence. Painful, yes. And yet through the muck and darkness, much like the roots of the lotus, we can find our way into moments of beauty. Ultimately, we can bloom and surprise ourselves as we bloom again. It takes work and time. Remembering a life with love and lightness in our hearts may take effort. I am able to witness and personally experience not only the pain, but the beauty possible in this, too.

So it is with this thread of acknowledgment to the families with whom I’ve worked, along with those in the future whom I’ve yet to meet, that I offer these stanzas from a blessing written by poet John O’Donohue:

AT THE END OF THE YEAR

As this year draws to its end,

We give thanks for the gifts it brought

And how they became inlaid within

Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter

with light from beyond themselves;

And from the granite of some secret sorrow

A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,

For all we loved and lost

And for the quiet way it brought us

Nearer to our invisible destination.

With this I offer you a sense of gratitude for whatever this past year held and hopes for a new year full of bringing you closer to yourself AND those you love: to abundance in living soulfully, strength in seeing the wholeness and connection to what is true.

My warmest wishes for a Happy New Year! ~ Kristine

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Animal Companion Rituals: A conversation

I asked a recent client, Virginia, to share her thoughts about our experience working together, before, during and after her cat made his final passage. She did so quite graciously and our conversation is below. Her cat, Leopold, was an elderly gent who had quite a memorable presence. I loved meeting him! His personality came through clearly and we were able to co-create very meaningful rituals for his departure.

Cat napping

Cat napping (Photo credit: popitz)

When the time comes to face losing an animal companion and choosing to end his or her life, it is so painfully difficult. Especially when we consider this being a true family member. I’ve faced pet loss many times in the past. Experiencing the comfort of ritual first hand led me to offer services for others and their animals: to provide comfort and healing opportunities around a transition that can otherwise feel clinical, sterile and empty.

Virginia chose to perform goodbye rituals herself, at home with her long-time friend, for which I offered her guidance. She enacted these before the at-home euthanasia appointment. She also chose to have me support and guide her during and after the appointment; and when she was ready to part with him, I transported his body for cremation and also picked up his remains. Here is what Virgina shared about this passage of time:

Kristine: Please describe your desire for having ritual guidance and assistance before Leopold’s transition.

Virginia: He was my buddy for many years: I lived with him longer than I’ve lived with anyone else. I’m spiritual, but not religious, so I don’t have any prescribed rituals for honoring relationships and transitions. I needed a way to honor my relationship with him, the joy and comfort that he gave me, and his death.

Kristine: In what ways did you find ritual support helpful during his transition and afterward?

Virginia: Your guidance and support with rituals made me feel like a had a meaningful path to follow: before, during and after Leopold’s death. Before, I spent time honoring our relationship. During, we prepared and honored his body. We also allowed grief to flow, in my home. Afterward, I used some of the same rituals that you had suggested prior, and performed these to remember, celebrate and honor his spirit; and continue feeling connected to him.

Kristine: Please describe any thoughts about how your experience may have been different without choosing ritual assistance.

Virginia: Based on my previous experience with pet deaths, I probably would have felt more like I was stumbling through the process, with emptiness.

Kristine: Anything else?

Virginia: I was so grateful for your guidance: it made my dearest cat’s transition an exceptional and memorable time, which is what I wanted it to be.

Kristine: This is a gift to hear, Virginia. I am grateful for your courage and choices to make it a comforting time of remembrance. Thanks for sharing your experience with others!