The day your pet or your beloved person dies you feel that your world is destroyed. It doesn’t matter if it was expected or sudden. It shakes you to the core. Many of us opt to have our loved ones cremated or they have chosen to be cremated. When this process is finished, you must pick up the ashes. No one really tells you how that is going to make you feel.
I’ve had to do this many times. And each time your heart breaks, yet again. It’s as if the day that they died is on replay. When they hand you the urn or the container of ashes it may bring back all those moments that brought you to that moment of loss. To the moment you realized that was their last breath, when your heart is pounding out of your chest and the tears just won’t stop. And now it is starting all over again.
I remember the first time was my daughter’s “sister”, her dog Amazon. They handed me her collar and the box of ashes and I could barely make it out of the office before the flood waters began. And I sat in my car bawling my eyes out. And every pet after that has been the same. I’ve never had to pick up a person’s ashes but I am sure it is the very same.
So be prepared.
NO ONE TOLD ME!
This is my first blog and I decided I should introduce myself to you. I am the creator of Sacred Embers. My name is Carolyn Osborne and I never realized how amazing Sacred Embers would be or that it would be such an important thing to me. And it has become so important for others. Life changing in some cases.
I am, and have always been, an artist. Creating is so important to me and art is such an emotional thing. It touches your heart and your soul. I feel that although I lost my brother and that is how Sacred Embers came into my life it has been a wonderful healing thing for me and I know that with each Sacred Embers that I create my brother David is there with me.
In future blogs I will talk about many things regarding Sacred Embers, death, feelings, the afterlife…….who knows what else. There are so many subjects to talk about. One thing that would be great is for people to become more comfortable talking about death. After all, it’s going to happen to all of us, to everyone we know. It should be an event as cherished and celebrated as birth.
When I was growing up people in our family died, of course. But kids in our family didn’t go to funerals. It would be too upsetting. Not being of a religious household, I guess there wasn’t the same thought that kids should participate in these “life” events. We never really had a way to process that Grandpa wouldn’t be there anymore. They were just gone. Of course we knew to be sad. But, in retrospect, talking about it would have been better. And maybe part of that was the time I grew up in. Or maybe it was just my family. I’m not really sure. I remember friends talking of people that died in their families and they went to the funerals…….maybe it was my family.
I feel that talking to kids about things is super important. It really doesn’t matter what the subject is. (Of course, you have to take into consideration their age and adjust for that). But kids ask questions. Kids are curious and not talking colors subjects as a negative. Kids are quite resilient. Giving them knowledge, again, age appropriately, is a fabulous thing. It gives them power and a certainty in life. It gives you the opportunity to hear their take on things.
Life is complicated and death is literally in the circle of life. Family members die. Friends, young and old die. Pets die. Strangers die. Sometimes after a long illness and other times quite tragically and suddenly. When it’s possible, understanding that Grandma is sick and when she dies she won’t be here but she will continue to be in your heart. Nurturing those special relationships before that time comes so that there are memories to share and hold onto is how it should be. And going to a funeral or memorial service is not going to warp or injure a child. It is part of life and continuing on. And kids have incredible insight on so many things….to include death. Let them have the opportunity, regardless of their age, to share their thoughts. Find out how they’re feeling since their dog has died. Don’t hide it from them or minimize their feelings. Talk it out. Communication is so important. And a kid’s perspective is usually full of some surprises as well as some incredible logic.
I tell my Sacred Embers clients that when a beloved person or pet dies…………..”It never gets better. Only different.”
When someone has a tragedy or loss in their lives, friends and loved ones want to fix it. Fix you. It’s a natural reaction. We want to make everything o.k.
With a death, it changes you permanently and there is a process within that you must go through. You are forever changed when a loved one dies. And truly, it doesn’t matter if it was expected or sudden……it is still devastating. Life changing.
People are so lost when it comes to talking about death. They don’t know what to say to those left behind when someone dies. And sadly, people often will avoid you or disappear altogether. They disappear because they feel the need to fix things but there is nothing that they can do. They are lost for words too. My advice to people when a person is experiencing the aftermath of death is to just be there. There isn’t the need to talk about things or give advice or fix. Just. Be. There. Acknowledge their pain and just be present.
Go sit with them. Call to say hi and check in. Send a text. Send an email. Those simple actions let someone know that they are still being thought of. And even as life continues on, several weeks later they are still grieving………….their life has not really continued on. So continue with the simple gestures, the reminders that you are still thinking about them. They may seem so small to you but it will mean a lot to them. To know that you haven’t forgotten. To know that you acknowledge that they are hurting.
A wonderful video is available at the link below. And the website is also full of valuable information regarding loss.
Before I started Sacred Embers I had really not had exposure to cremains/ashes from anything. In my family, as small as it is, most people had been placed in a cemetery or their ashes had gone to someone else. Plus talking about death was not something that happened. (This is also fodder for a future blog post).
One thing I have learned because of Sacred Embers using the ashes of people and pets, is that there are SO MANY different textures and colors of ashes. Some are as fine as powder while others actually have pieces of bone still intact. And of course there are different textures in between that spectrum. The colors can differ too! That is something that really has surprised me. Some have been white as snow while others are different shades of beige or grey and I’ve even encountered a few that have been almost a navy. Different things come into play to create these differences.
If the person was wearing clothing at the time of cremation, the fabric can change the color. Aquamation often creates the whitest ashes of all because the body is processed via water as opposed to fire. The texture can be different because of the way the bones are processed as well. After cremation or aquamation, what is left of the bones are crushed. Some places frankly do more processing of the bones than others. Which obviously plays a part in the texture that the living will receive back, typically in some type of container or urn.
Often people don’t ever open the urn of their loved one. It’s scary, too final…..so many reasons. Whether you do or don’t, it really doesn’t matter. Having them can bring comfort, as can releasing them. Just be prepared, and if you do release them, don’t stand down wind!
My friends at www.restingwaters.com can give you more information regarding pets and the aquamation process.
I am always shocked by people that don’t understand someone grieving over their pet that has died. Our pets are, or at least are supposed to be, a family member. They miss you when you go to work or on a trip. They show you they love you. They “talk” to you in their way. They snuggle with you and show you affection. They make you laugh, they make you cry. They. Love. You. Unconditionally.
Some people have pets instead of children.
Some people have pets and children. The bottom line is that those pets; dog, cat, hamster, lizard………….are loved and had a place in the family. When death takes them from this realm, for any reason, it is a profound loss. It crushes your heart. You may cry tears that you never thought were possible. It’s o.k. And no one has the right to diminish your pain. Someone that you love has died. That void is terrible and heart wrenching.
There will always be those people that do not value pets like you do. Those people that just don’t get it. Don’t waste your time worrying about what they think. Cry, grieve, talk to those people that do understand, be alone with your memories, look for signs of their visits.
I don’t know your beliefs, but I believe, that our bodies are vessels and when they are no longer needed the soul, spirit, energy of that vessel continues on. This applies to animals and people. That’s why I tell people to look for signs of their visits. They want you to know that they are there. When you see or feel or smell something…..don’t automatically think that it is a coincidence. Look beyond that and feel their presence. I know that it is not the same as having them with you but it is comforting.
So when that sad day comes disregard the people that don’t understand. Your loss is very valid and deserves every moment of your tears and pain. As I tell my Sacred Embers clients, “It never gets better, only different.” How wonderful that you shared that love.
Yesterday I had lunch with a very dear friend. She was a Sacred Embers client. That’s how I met her. Her name is Erika. She came to me several years ago with a broken heart and the ashes of her sweet heart dog Lulu. We clicked from the moment we met. We laughed and we cried as she told me stories of her baby. We talk often and try to see each other once a month to catch up. We have many similar experiences in life and having that time to catch up and share what is currently going on in our lives has become very important. It’s always as if we saw each other the day before.
Life is full of so many types of treasures. Embrace them. Cherish the little things in life and know that nothing is a coincidence. The people that step into your life are there for a reason. We all have gifts to share with each other. It may be forever or it may be for a moment. There are so many things connecting all of us. Every strand of our lives are intertwined.