How do you honor a beloved furry friend when their time has come?
Agatha Jane just a few months ago. Photo compliments of my friend Kit. She was keeping me company as I tried to write.
Let’s face it: Goodbyes are hard, especially when we know we won’t see the other person again. I lost Agatha Jane, my rabbit companion, about two weeks ago, and honestly? I’m still reeling a bit. She was my best friend, snuggle bunny, and life saver. She was also stubborn, occasionally cranky, and somewhat possessive if food was involved. Her day totally revolved around her stomach and treats time! I loved her completely, sometimes to my husband’s consternation, I’m sure.
While a very sentimental person, I’m also strangely practical about some things. A farm girl still at heart, our animals usually get buried in the yard of wherever we’re living. And we actually own our own home now. I could go sit with Aggie whenever I wanted or needed to, but I just couldn’t do it. For the first time ever, I had one of my animal friends cremated. (Our eldest’s daughter’s dog, Rosie, was also cremated. She spends time on our Memory Altar every Fall.)
It was such a relief to bring Aggie back home last week, but now I need to figure out what to do with her ashes. What I’m going to share is what I’ve decided to do for her. Hopefully it’ll work for others, or at least give you some of your own ideas.
A Goodbye Ritual
Aggie came home in a hardwood box, or urn, with an engraved brass name plate on it. A local funeral home took good care of her, treating us like they would any other client. This is something I really appreciate. We went through a different funeral home when we had Rosie cremated and received the same excellent care. And it was far cheaper than going through a vet’s office, just to toss that out there.
She was a small rabbit, so there’s a lot of room left in the small box. Actually, there are about half a dozen packing peanuts filling up the bulk of the space. I’m going to make use of that space with mementos.
We often spent time snuggled up on the couch, especially of the past year when she couldn’t get around easily, and there are a few blankets we’d lay on to protect the cushions. I’m going to snip a chunk of flannel from the corner of one of them to wrap her plastic bagged cremains in.
I also have some of her fur tucked back from past grooming sessions (seriously, I save some of weirdest stuff in my botanica.) Some of that will get transferred to an even smaller little bottle to place in the box as well. There’s also a bit of a claw from a nail trim floating around here somewhere as well.
Finally, I think there will still be some room for a small bottle of some of her favorite dried treats – raisins, and maybe a few cranberries, and a dried cherry for good measure. I may tuck some timothy hay in there as well. Next summer, I’ll try to dry a dandelion and add it in as well. She loved the flowers and their stems.
After gathering all of these things, I’ll set my altar up in a manner that feels right and fitting. There will probably be some of the little rabbit figurines I’ve collected over the last few years, a black and a white candle, etc.… All of the above items will be added to her little box with great reverence, and I’m sure a few tears. The final resting place will mainly be my desk, where I can look over at it often and talk with her like I did in life.
And then, come Fall, her box of ashes and her photo will rest on our Memory altar with the other loved ones we’re missing. Because, we remember them, even when they’re pets.
In the meantime, helping with my grief, is her son, Jelly Bean, the Cannonball Soot Sprit.