Our friend Yuli Somme from Bellacouche has sent this beautiful piece
|I remember years ago my daughter cradling her dead hamster, trying to comprehend the why and what of it all. |
Five years after the death of my lovely Labracollie, Flo, I still miss the soft velvet of her ears and her ridiculous grin when she greeted us. More recently I was invited to the funeral of a friend’s rabbit (for whom I had made a shroud) and I can honestly say it was one of the most moving and unforgettable funerals I’ve ever been to.
It is evident to me, especially in this last year, that our pets increasingly mean more to us than ever before. It is a real grief that can hit us when they die. Planning a ceremony to mourn the loss of a pet can be cathartic and help us divert the intensity of feelings into something creative. I especially think that when children are involved, pet funerals can be a ‘way in’ to understanding our own mortality. It is worth taking time over these events, just as it is with human funerals.
Repeatedly I hear stories from the recently bereaved that funeral directors have insisted that because of the pandemic a natural burial, or any burial, is not an option. Other excuses are that there is no room for burial, and one company uses the slogan “Keep the land for the living, not the dead”, forgetting that the land is a place for the constant death and renewal of Life. It’s called the Cycle of Life!
A crematorium gives you a 20 mn slot, you are herded in and out, as the next funeral awaits by the door. Bland ceremonial formats are trotted out by funeral corporations, increasing their profits of course but how are we left feeling?
A natural burial can be paced to suit the mourners and the moment. It starts at a given time and ends when people are ready. The ceremony can have formal moments as well as spontaneous actions as somehow, in an outdoor setting, people feel freer to express themselves, maybe touching the shroud or coffin, or singing something that others feel moved to join in on, or even dancing. A natural setting encourages a relaxed pace and we feel more connected to Nature. Do you think this helps with the process of mourning and grief?
I think it is a good thing that funeral cultures are slowly moving away from dogma and formality, which often have an intimidating effect rather than supporting us at moments of intense feelings. There are many new entrants into the strange world of funeral directing (especially women), bringing a fresh breath of creative thought. There are also many well established funeral directors who stand back and encourage creativity and spontaneity. Organising a funeral can be an enormous and daunting task, so it is good to use help from those with experience, and it is worth spending time ‘shopping around’ for a flexibly minded funeral director.
There is also the option of DIY; no funeral director, less cost.
This brings me back to my earlier words about pet funerals. We should not think of them as trivial as they give us an opportunity to think outside the box, unhindered by the human conventions of what is right or wrong in a funeral, perhaps even bringing up unshed tears for a past unsatisfactory ceremony for a loved one.
Last week I launched a new range of shrouds (or pouches for the very small) for pets. These are suitable for natural burial, being made entirely of natural materials – wool and wood.
Do feel free to send me your comments.
Thanks for reading.
Keep well and enjoy the rest of May,
“The Earth, that’s Nature’s Mother, is her tomb;
What is her burying grave, that is her womb”
Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet
Here is some more information on Yuli’s animal shrouds.