When a beloved companion passes, it can be wrenching. This may especially be true when others neither understand nor are sympathetic to your grief.
During such intense times we seek comfort through private rituals and the arrangements made for a loved one’s remains. When a companion animal dies, cremation is the most common practice, but a natural home burial is also commonplace – for those with yards. For those of us without land who prefer burial, the option for a natural burial in a cemetery is nearly nonexistent. Continue reading →
Still frame from The Snowman and The Snowdog. 2012. Hilary Audus, director.
Most every holiday highlights family – the family into which we were born or adopted, or the ones we create for ourselves. All those relations of different ages, thoughts and species are special to us in their own way. For those who have experienced the recent passing of a family member, close friend or teacher, or who are reminded of days gone by, of reassuring glances, or of playful and gentle touch, we ask: how can one’s reminiscence and grief coincide with so much holiday cheer? Continue reading →
New legislation in New York State would make it possible for people to have their pet’s cremated remains (a.k.a. cremains) interred with them in certain NY cemeteries.
Originally introduced on March 21, 2013 by Republican Mike Ranzenhofer and cosponsored by Democrat Tony Avella, Bill S4322 already passed the Senate this past March in a landslide vote of 60-0 (with one abstention). It now awaits deliberation by the NYS Assembly (follow its progress here). The bill – which only pertains to cemeteries governed by the NYS Cemetery Board – permits those cemeteries to offer this option. Continue reading →
Update: On April 3, 2014, the Virginia Governor signed HB 588 into law.
The Virginia State Capitol – Thomas Jefferson’s “Temple to Democracy”
A bill (HB 588) was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly that would amend the State Cemetery Code to allow human cemeteries to designate a special section for the burial of human remains with their companion animals in adjacent graves. It was introduced by republican Delegate Israel O’Quinn with Delegate A. Benton Chafin, Jr. as Chief Co-Patron.
The issue was brought to Delegate O’Quinn’s attention by Kelly Farris, co-owner of Farris Funeral Services, who has been receiving increasing requests from folk who want to keep their family intact in death as they were in life. Continue reading →
Gerrit Dou (1613–1675), Sleeping Dog (detail), 1650. Oil on panel, 6 ½ x 8 ½ inches. The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection. Image courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The end of a year can be challenging, especially when we consider those who have recently passed, or those who passed years ago. Bereavement sneaks in, but only if we shut it out. As we close 2013 and look ahead to 2014, we’d like to share this poem by Denise Levertov.
Talking to Grief by Denise Levertov
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you. Continue reading →
A beautiful new pet memorial park, Pet Memorial Acres, recently opened in central New York State. With its commitment to green burials within its borders – and in general – it represents a future direction for pet cemeteries in the U.S. and abroad. Since there are few options for green pet-burials in dedicated cemeteries, we wanted to recognize Pet Memorial Acres by inviting its founder, Darryl Simcoe, to write of his inspiration and aspirations for this new venture.
by Darryl Simcoe, Founder, Pet Memorial Acres
Summer at Pet Memorial Acres
My interest in pet cemeteries evolved from my research into green burials. I came across the website for Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve located in Newfield, New York. A human cemetery, it is one of a very few cemeteries in New York State that provide the option of a green burial for all people. [Note: New York State cemetery law prohibits animals from being buried in human cemeteries.] Continue reading →
2012 has been an eventful year for our Green Pet-Burial Society. This work is continually buoyed by the simple question:
Why is this important?
It’s not only about burials – it’s so much more than that! It’s about our worldviews of Nature, animals and our own humanity, and it’s about embracing all that is simple and beautiful in life. We’ve learned of four new green cemeteries that allow a pet’s remains to be buried in the family plot – two in the U.S. and two in the U.K. – and we’ve seen established pet cemeteries plan for new green burial sections. Here are some other highlights: Continue reading →
This night before Thanksgiving, I saw a stunning and quite surprising film on PBS – part of its Nature series. Entitled My life as a turkey, it chronicles the hatching, growing, learning, exploring and socialization of two groups of sibling wild turkeys and their adopted man-mom, naturalist Joe Hutto (played by Jeff Palmer). Remarkably,
Joe was “born into a hardcore turkey hunting family and culture.” Fascinating
and utterly moving, this film illustrates a somewhat enviable experience of living with young turkeys (‘poults’):
These animals were telling me how to live my life; also, we [humans] do not have a privileged access to reality.
Stories of human-turkey relationships only provide greater credence to the families any of us may form with other creatures – dogs, cats, rabbits, rats – all of whom deserve our affection and rescue from otherwise terrible ends by human hands.
The scene that prompted this post: two of the birds had died, and we see Joe digging their graves. Continue reading →
A dear friend of our Green Pet-Burial Society, Doyle L. Shugart, passed on July 8, 2012. He is widely known and respected for establishing Deceased Pet Care, Georgia’s first and only full service pet funeral home and the largest pet funeral home in the nation.
Doyle founded Deceased Pet Care in 1972 at a time when (many if not most) regarded pet cemeteries as curiosities. Along with his wife, Maudann, and their three children, Keith, Kyle, and Donna, the Shugarts grew Deceased Pet Care to three locations, which include two pet cemeteries. Under his compassionate guidance, they have supported and comforted numerous bereaved families. Continue reading →
Families can now arrange to have their pet’s body flown back home for burial.
Every year, hundreds if not thousands of families arrange for the body of a loved one to be flown home for burial; most notably recovered military personnel who died overseas. Their military comrades are often seen flying on commercial airlines as they accompany the remains of fallen women and men on the solemn journey home (read an online discussion by airline personnel and others). Continue reading →
Marketing bacon and hot dogs with coffins? Sometimes we’re tempted to say that certain things just don’t warrant comment. However, students of popular culture, animal studies and/or death studies may find this post particularly useful when illustrating cultural values and ideas about animals, food, death and humor.
Below are two examples of businesses mixing the accoutrements of human funerals with meat; by so doing, they focus our attention on the particular products they sell – bacon and hot dogs – and the bodies they come from. The unexamined words, images and materials that we use and encounter shape our cultural values, experiences and understanding of the world, and can sometimes create great distance among people, as well as between humans and other species.
Just before April 1 (a.k.a., April Fool’s Day), a news item about a new bacon-themed coffin received a fair amount of media attention with many respondents inquiring if it was “real” or a hoax. It was created and marketed by Seattle-based J&D Foods (although more accurately, the coffin markets them). They explain that it was created for “the bacon fan who loves bacon to death.” (see video below) Continue reading →
I just viewed The Mantis Parable (2006), the first animated short by filmmaker Josh Staub.
It is a perfect short film for the Passover and Easter holidays (which also coincided with Buddha’s birthday this year). It’s a story of life in the face of death; control over our own bodies and stories; dyspathy, compassion and redemption; liberation from captivity; and accepting the risks of sacrifice to help another. Since its release, this film has gained international acclaim at film festivals worldwide.
If you know of other works of art we should consider including on our Art webpage, please let us know. Enjoy!
At the end of 2011, the Green Pet-Burial Society submitted a proposal to the Green Burial Council (GBC) on its certification standards for green burial grounds. When our Society was founded, GBC had four certificate levels; then effective on 1/1/11, GBC consolidated its standards into its current three levels.
In thinking about how these standards might apply to pet cemeteries as well as human cemeteries, we carefully analyzed GBC’s standards and proposed some modifications, including reinstituting a four-standard system along with some additional recognitions. (Note: these two organizations are independent from one another.) Continue reading →
There are times when one’s bereavement, believed to have healed, becomes reawakened. It could be from a familiar word or gesture, the reemergence of someone from one’s past, or some kind of exposure that feels impossible to contain. As with many journeys, grief spirals back and forth. It takes us to the precipice of life – infusing it with perspective – and then drops us into the mendacity of social convention, the desire for forgetting, and the hope for hope.
For all who struggle with grief, here is a song my friends sing. Written and sung by Matisyahu, it’s a blessing with wide meaning, an anthem for peace, and yearning for peace in our personal lives when people’s hostilities towards us may be turned into invited play. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl9voSKJmEU
Animal Death. June 13, 2012, University of Sydney Camperdown Campus. This symposium brings together cross-disciplinary voices on the topic of Animal Death. It seeks papers that explore how animal and human death are conceptualized, diverge, differ and also connect in profound ways. Papers could explore issues of sacrifice, “necessary” expendability, utility, species extinction, human survival, climate change and conservation. They are particularly interested in human and animal relationships around the nature of death. These include (but not limited to) issues of grief (for the dead companion animal), euthanasia, rituals of slaughter, vivisection, cultures of denial, the issue of who is and isn’t attributed a soul, and post-death belief systems. Please send 200 word abstracts to Dr Jay Johnston by January 16, 2012. Panels of up to three speakers are welcome. Continue reading →
The Green Pet-Burial Society has recently been contacted by several people seeking to create new pet cemeteries, and several more wanting to create either a green burial section in an existing cemetery, or implement eco-friendly practices throughout their cemetery.
In response, we prepared a new document for pet cemetery professionals which covers the basic conceptual, cultural, aesthetic and economic aspects that are significant to cemeterians and eco-conscious consumers. Additionally, it reimagines pet cemeteries as local centers for environmental sustainability. Continue reading →
Thank You for your interest in, and support of, the Green Pet-Burial Society. What an extraordinary year! When I founded the Society in early 2010, it was important to launch our website first in order to provide grieving individuals and families with information they needed to make practical and green burial arrangements upon the passing of a beloved animal. No other service provides the type of information we do. It’s heartening to know that many found help either directly from us or from the information posted. Continue reading →
I proposed to the LA Pet Memorial Park that they designate a portion of their park exclusively for natural burials. The President of the Board, David Stiller, brought this issue up at their recent board meeting where it was enthusiastically received. Continue reading →