An early indicator that I might possibly have a future in death care was my practice of burying the family pets that had expired throughout my childhood at my grandparents farm.
Some of the early interments were beloved cocker spaniels that had been with me since birth, dogs that had seen my first steps, and adored my relentless petting and cuddling. Later, a duckling I had fostered was laid to rest in a child’s shoebox, lined with cotton balls and a silk swatch of fabric from the floor of my grandmother’s sewing room.
Once my mom became a certified cat lover, they too eventually would lay beneath the pecan trees. I remember receiving a distressed phone call from her in my mid twenties even, long after I had left the nest. Once of her foster failure kitties was suffering from feline leukemia, and the humane choice was euthanasia. She absolutely could not bring herself to take the cat for that final ride, and asked if I would. So I did. And I stayed with the kitty and held her while they administered the shot that would give her peace. Then, I took the cardboard container carrying her body to my grandparents house, and at sunset one fall evening, buried the kitty beside a cluster of purple daisies and beneath the nearly bare branches of the pecan trees.
I still bury my pets, the latest being sweet Bella the Cat, who is nested near the roots of an oak tree at Eloise Woods Natural Burial Park for People and Pets. I am also now entrusted with the care of other people’s pet family members too, as a practitioner of whole family death care for both people and pets.