Honouring our Pets as they Cross the Rainbow Bridge

Anyone who has loved and cared for a pet will say that they are a member of the family. The special connection that we have with our pets is a shared bond that cannot be broken. It is a mutual understanding that transcends words and the way we communicate with other humans. They offer us companionship, love, and even therapy when we most need it, in ways that no other person can provide.

We share a special relationship with our pets

The source of unconditional love we share with our pets stems from their unwavering and unquestioning acceptance of us. The bond we develop with them, once formed cannot be broken.

This is because the relationship we have with our furry, feathered or scaly friends is a symbiotic one, where we help each other. Usually, while we nurture and care for our pets, they provide us with emotional and physical comfort.

pet-dog-sat-on-owners-lap

Research has shown that as people interact with their pets, both humans, as well as their animals, will experience a release of beta-endorphins, boosting oxytocin and serotonin levels. This results in the pets and their owners feeling happy, loved, and relaxed.

We cannot underestimate the health and wellbeing effects of owning a pet. Pets are known to help us reduce blood pressure, stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and even depression. The companionship pets offer can be life-changing, especially for the elderly and only children, but also for those in need.

Dogs, in particular, can help us by serving as guide dogs, seeing-eye dogs, farm dogs, police dogs and other service dogs. They’ve been known to even detect cancer, the onset of epileptic fits, diabetic-related episodes and other ailments. They then can raise the alarm by alerting their owners or other members of the family. Our animals help keep us fit with exercise, play and even bring people together through social interactions.

When you lose a pet

If you speak to any devoted pet owner, they will tell you that animals’ lives are way too short. Animals age much quicker than humans and all too soon, we’re left to nurse an elderly pet and with the inevitable task of preparing to say goodbye to them.

Losing a pet can sometimes be even more traumatic and devastating than losing a family member. This is due to that special bond that we share with our beloved animals who have become very much a part of our lives.

Therefore it’s not just losing a dog or a cat, it’s the loss of a close companion who comforts us and provides us with security. It’s also the loss of a source of unconditional love – likened to that of losing a “child” that we’ve nurtured and cared for.

It can be extremely painful to come to terms with the death of a cat, dog, or any other pet that we’ve loved and formed a lasting attachment with. Just as when we lose a human family member or close friend, we will also experience the stages of grief when we lose a pet.

This means it’s natural to go through feelings of denial, anger, guilt, depression and eventually acceptance and resolution. Some people will experience more cyclical grief, with a series of waves of highs and lows.

Dealing with our feelings of grief

It is completely normal to feel sad, shocked and lonely after the loss of a beloved pet. Some people may feel embarrassed and ashamed about exhibiting their feelings and mourning the loss of ‘an animal’, but research has shown just how devastating it can be to lose a pet.

woman-grieving-death-of-a-pet

You should be patient and kind to yourself after this heartbreaking experience. Some people will feel overwhelming sadness, stress and even depression. It’s important to practise self-care and deal with your grief.

You can surround yourself with family and friends who understand the special relationship you shared with your pet. Reach out to them to share your feelings and memories so you’re not bottling all the emotions of grief up.

Deciding what to do with your pet’s ashes

A memorial is a way we can honour the life and existence of our beloved pet by paying tribute to the animal that has been a big part in a ‘short’ time of our lives. It also helps us deal with our grief and get closure. Farewelling our pet in this way is a ceremony or ritual that helps us process our emotions and start to heal.

Is it ok to bury my pet in my backyard?

Before you bury your pet, it is important to understand the implications. You must check on the legalities of pet burial in your state. Commercial species such as chickens and other poultry cannot be legally buried in some Australian states.

If you own your own home with a backyard, burying them there has been seen to be the easiest and therefore popular option for dealing with your pet’s remains. However, burying your pet in your backyard is not a good idea because it poses potentially serious risks to the community and the environment.

Very soon after they pass away, your pet’s body will begin to decompose and start to emit gases that other animals can smell. Other pets in the neighbourhood, like dogs or even wild foxes will detect a buried pet and dig it up if they can. This can be extremely distressing.

It is also dangerous if your deceased pet had a contagious disease such as parvovirus, or was put to sleep by euthanisation. The euthanasia drugs can linger in a deceased pet’s body for up to a year, and other animals that come into contact with the drugs (or any contagious virus) could become sick or die.  

If your pets are not buried deep enough into the ground, there is also the risk of resurfacing from flooding. You will need to wrap your pet’s body in something biodegradable then dig a hole at least one metre deep, away from utility lines and preferably in an elevated site.

Decomposition of your deceased pet can also cause bacterial contamination in the soil where it is buried. This could seep into groundwater and spread into other areas, particularly concerning if food crops are being harvested closeby. There are also risks of making other animals and humans that come into contact with the contaminated soil or water seriously ill.

A home burial is physically and emotionally draining. Bear in mind also that if you move houses, you will lose your backyard memorial and not get access to visit your buried pet.

Can I bury my pet in a cemetery?

In Australia, Government cemeteries do not allow the joint burial of humans and animals. This is difficult to accept for those of us who consider our pets our family, and who would like nothing more than to be put to rest with our pet when our time comes.

There are pet cemeteries that allow human ashes to be buried with their pet’s remains however, these cemeteries are often not regulated as strictly as human cemeteries and there may be a risk that the remains will not be there in perpetuity.

What if there’s a way your beloved pet could be put to rest with you when your time comes?

Our pets have given us so much love, joy and comfort. Throughout their lives, they have always been there for us. When they leave this world, it’s only natural to feel the loss and grief for our pets who have come to be such a big part of our lives. Many of us want to farewell our pets and pay tribute to them in the best possible way.

Never before has there been a legal opportunity to be put to rest with your pet without the unknown risk of limited tenure in unregulated pet cemeteries. You can be assured that our beloved pets will rest with us in perpetuity.

At Mornington Green your pet’s ashes will be organically treated to remove any toxicity, then be infused into the community pet flower bed or even into a tree in your very own Legacy Garden. You can also arrange a small ceremony to pay tribute to the life of your pet if you wish.

You’ll be able to honour the memory of your pet and the special bond that you shared, by visiting the beautiful grounds and gardens with your family and friends, or even with your other pets.

If you choose to infuse your pet’s ashes into the pet flower bed at Mornington Green, you can take comfort that they will rest in the beautiful gardens with other beloved pets. You will also have the choice of infusing their ashes into a tree. This is so that when the time comes, you have the option of having your ashes infused into the same tree, or another tree nearby, where you can rest with your pets in perpetuity.

For more information, visit our contact page and get in touch.

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