We all know the benefits of having pets in our lives. Numerous studies have shown how pets can improve our mood and even our health. For those who have pets in their lives, many feel that their pet is a part of the family.
Recently a friend told me a story about a very special funeral she attended. In her neighborhood lived a wonderful older woman (Virginia) with her beloved dog, Simba. Simba was a fluffy mutt named by Virginia’s granddaughter because the dog looked like a young lion cub when he was a puppy. Simba was this woman’s faithful companion and went with her everywhere. They had been seen at the local bank, Starbucks, and even at the hairdresser
As the woman aged, family and neighbors began to worry about her safety. She had stopped driving and spent much more time at home. The family made arrangements for people to visit frequently. Between the eight grandchildren, three adult children and their spouses, neighbors and members of the church, there were plenty of people to care for Virginia and keep her company. She seemed to be doing well.
Two weeks ago, Virginia fell asleep with a candle burning on the end table next to her chair. At least, that is what the investigators believe. They also believe Simba may have knocked the candle over trying to jump on her lap and inadvertently set the house on fire. Sadly, the woman and her beloved Simba perished in the house fire, along with all her photos and mementos of her life.
Virginia had already talked with her family about her wishes for funeral services and the family made arrangements to have her cremated and hold memorial services in her honor. The family also had Simba cremated and both urns were displayed side by side at the services. Virginia’s children and grandchildren were able to gather photos from cellphones and old albums. There were pictures strewn throughout the room of this woman with her family, and Simba was present in so many of them.
What made this service so special was not just that it was for Virginia and Simba, but that those people she visited with Simba showed up at her memorial service to pay respects to the family and to say one last goodbye to the woman and her beloved dog. The teller from the bank where she went every other Thursday was there. Two of the Starbucks employees where she would stop to get coffee twice a week (“like clockwork,” they said) were there. And the ladies from the hair salon where she would get her hair done every Friday morning came to tell the family stories about how they would tease Virginia about getting her dog’s hair done. My friend said it was one of the most beautiful services she had ever attended.
At Schoedinger, we certainly strive to help families create healing experiences through personalized funerals and memorials. To learn more about all the options available to families, as well as to learn more about what personalization means, visit our website at www.schoedinger.com.