Pet Funerals Ancient and Modern
Posted by: scentandviolet August 20th, 2017
It's not as if the idea of a pet funeral is anything new. They go back a very long time indeed. Not too long ago, a 25,000-year-old grave was unearthed that held the remains of three dogs, all carefully positioned on their sides, one with a bone placed in its mouth. They were, from all indications, cherished companions -- not food. Though we can't describe what their funeral was like, there is no doubt these animals had been sent on their way with tears and love.
Researchers have collected thousands of cat mummies in Egypt, with thousands more awaiting discovery. Mummification was a long and expensive process deemed necessary for admittance into paradise. Ancient Egyptians had no trouble according their cats the same funeral rites and afterlife privileges they accorded themselves. And it was customary to shave one's head in mourning when the family cat passed away.
Legend says, Alexander the Great held lavish funeral games and built an ornate tomb, along with a city to go around it, for his favorite horse. Dozens of dog mummies were found in a thousand-year-old Peruvian cemetery. They had been buried alongside their human masters and mistresses; their bodies shrouded in the finest wool, their feeding dishes and toys close by. In modern times, major Hollywood stars turned out to attend the 1938 funeral of the chimp who played Tarzan's buddy, Cheetah, in the movies. And today, we still have a somber parade of funerals for military and police dogs killed in the line of duty.
Yet, there remains a tendency among some to scoff at the idea of a pet funeral and the notion of equality it implies. How silly, they say, to give a dog or cat or hamster a funeral when all they are is property; soulless things good only for churning back into the ground. To which we answer, "rubbish": Those of us who cherish our pets need no convincing that they ensouled beings.To honor their passing with a funeral attests to the eternal nature of our relationship and gives solace to our sorrow.
It has been now many years when we started to create funeral flowers for beloved pets. From floral crowns to wreaths, pets have been sent off with our beautiful flowers, and we have delivered quite a few bouquets to the bereaved families who lost their pet. We lost and cried over our beloved pets - and it hurts. Each one of us finds the best way to grieve over pets. Please to not judge or discard people's need to hold beautiful memorial services for their beloved family member, whether it's a dog, cat, hamster, horse or snake.
Pets have been part of our lives since the days of the cave men. We domesticated wolves which then evolved into our current day dogs. In cave man days, wolves assisted man in hunting, helped get rid of rid of the scraps left over from meals, alerted man to dangers, and defended him from predators. These jobs carried on down through the years as did this part in keeping man company. Can't you just seeing a cave man and his wolf sharing a cave and keeping each other warm. Unfortunately, just like us, wolves and now dogs, cats and all our other pets die. Even though their role in our lives has not changed over the years, how we honor them in death has.
In ancient Egypt, family pets were mummified (if the family could afford it) and buried in the temples,
Anubis for the dogs and Bast for cats. And of course, everyone has heard the stories of the burials of pets with the pharaohs. This tradition also carried over to other cultures though maybe not as elaborate.
Fast forward to America. We have our own traditions for burial of our beloved pets. Who of us didn't have a pet funeral in our backyard as kids with the whole family in attendance? To many this was a necessary part of growing up – facing death and honoring our love for another being. It provided closure and made it all right for us to grieve.
Today, as fewer and fewer of live our whole lives in one dwelling, our customs have changed along with it. We want to be able to visit that special friend, just as we visit our family members graves after they pass. To share special events in our lives or to show them we still think about them. If you no longer live in the same house or in the case of a childhood loss, your parents have moved, it is difficult if not impossible for you to visit.
The pet cemeteries of today offer a variety of services. If you prefer a traditional form of burial, they can provide both the place and the casket. Many have a custom-made service where you can pick the materials used for the casket and design just as you would for any loved one. They care for the plot, keeping the grounds mowed and grass free from weeds. Many offer free services for military service animals. They can also provide grave markers. All treat your furry friend with the respect that they deserve.
If you prefer something that many feel is more environmentally friendly, cremation is also an option. Pets are cremated individually and their ashes returned to you. You have the choice of purchasing an urn from many locations or most crematoria offer these as well. You can then sprinkle their ashes in their favorite park or keep them on your mantle.
What ever you choose, keep in mind that pets play a large part in our lives. Grieving is a natural thing and needs to take place in order for us to heal. Today it is not uncommon to send a card or flowers when someone in your life has lost their pet..
Many people today view their pets as a member of the family. It can be devastatingly hard to get past the death of a pet, sometimes nearly as painful as losing a person. A pet funeral may be a good way to memorialize your pet and gain some closure.
While many animals were mummified in Ancient Egypt for sacrifices, pets were often mummified to be buried with their owners. Such was the bond between owner and pet that they did not want to be separated, even in death.
The importance of saying goodbye to a fellow being that had such a huge impact on your life cannot be dismissed. How you go about a funeral for your pet is entirely up to you. There are many ways you can celebrate the life of your pet in a memorial service. There are places you can have a service prepared for you, or you can do it yourself. Once you have decided on the kind you will have, if you are doing it yourself, you will need to plan it out.
Doing the Service Yourself
If you want to have a traditional funeral service, here are some ideas you may want to consider:
- Have a picture or a collage of pictures of your pet on display.
- If your pet had a favorite place to go, perhaps a picture, or a rock or other memento from the place.
- Have a guest book for people to sign and perhaps write in a memory.
- Include flowers to help make the occasion feel special, and possibly to pass out to people.
- Prepare ahead of time to share something: perhaps a reading or viewing of poem, and perhaps have people share their memories aloud.
- Be sure to have tissues on hand.
- A small hand-out for guests might be appropriate, especially if your pet touched others' lives as well. Something like a tiny picture for them to take home or an ornament of some kind.
A pet funeral can help adults and children alike to have a sense of closeness and closure with a beloved pet.
Special thanks to Matty, Charlie, and Jennifer for their voices regarding Pet Funerals.
Scent & Violet, flowers and gifts is a full service florist in Houston, TX offering flower, plant and gift delivery in Houston, Katy, Richmond, Fulshear, Sugar Land, Stafford, and Bellaire. We aim to create fuss-free, everyday shopping source for flowers, plants, and gifts. It is our belief that we can create better relationships through gifting, better environments through plants, and better state of mind through flowers.