Just a lovely place...
A couple of weeks ago, Ben and I made a decision that would potentially horrify some people. You may feel the same when I tell you what that decision was:
We decided that after 5 years buried in our garden, we would dig our beloved Holly dog out and have her cremated. We just could not bare the thought of leaving her behind if we were to ever move and after many conversations we finally said 'right, we're doing it'.
But what would we find after all these years? And as well as it being unpleasant, how will we be effected emotionally? I told a friend our decision and she immediately said 'You can't do that, you will have to find someone else to do it for you'. But who?
I'll tell you who, the wonderful people at The Pet Funeral Services in Holywell in Wales.
In Holywell, in North Wales is a cemetery for animals. I had heard of the place, heard it was wonderful, heard that it was one of the best in the world. But I still found it a bit strange; how could a cemetery be so popular, especially as it even had a tea room! Wouldn't it seem a little morbid to spend time at a tea room at a graveyard? Oh, how I was wrong!
I called on a whim with regards to Holly, and they immediately said it was absolutely something they can do. In fact many people need that service! They were amazing with me on the phone; gentle, understanding, asking me her name, a little about her and made arrangements straight away to come and get her. I felt like a weight had lifted from my shoulders. When they came a week later, they were lovely, funny, relaxed, kind and understanding. They were incredibly respectful. The dogs in the house had all gone bonkers (as they do when people visit) but when they took Holly through to take her back to Holywell to be cremated, they all fell silent; like they knew they had to be good and quiet.
We went to pick up her ashes on the Sunday after. Despite knowing certain things and seeing photographs, I didn't know what to expect from the cemetery. I didn't know how I would feel or what I would think.
Both Ben and myself were completely and utterly blown away. As soon as we got out of the car, there was such a powerful feeling of love. It was just so lovely. Despite it being a cold and windy day, it was so warm there.
And there was many people, visiting their pets, strolling the grounds, and having lunch in the very lovely tea room.
We had made an appointment, so we made our way to the reception, where we met Jason who I had spoken to originally. There was two dogs and two cats wandering around in the office so of course we were immediately won over!
There, we got Holly's ashes back.
It was an incredibly emotional moment but we felt like we had been given something very special. We had been given a second chance to say a proper good bye and spend some time with her. I know it sounds strange and I know not everyone would understand, but it was just lovely to be able to do what we did, we even sat and had lunch with her right there on the table!
Trust me, its really not something we thought we would do, but we did.
Jason and everyone was just gorgeous. I felt so comfortable talking to them, and straight away felt like they were my kind of people. They understood love for their pets and the pain at the loss, without being dramatic or over the top. There was acceptance and joy.
Because I am doing my Pet Bereavement Counselling Diploma, I found it really insightful to go to the cemetery and speak with them, and it reaffirmed what I was doing was the absolutely the right course of action for me. And once again, Holly lead me down the right path.
The last few weeks have been very emotional and I did say at one point that I felt like I was picking a scab, though in reality I was healing a 5 year old wound. Yes if we would have talked originally we wouldn't have ended up where we did last weekend, at the animal cemetery, but we really should have discussed what to do when any of them passed away.
What to do when our pets die, is never something anyone wants to discuss, especially when they are young but it really is something we should all talk about, even briefly, what we would do with our families. If me and Ben had discussed properly what we would do after Holly passed away, then may be we would have done something else. I was incredibly grief stricken and I wasn't for listening. I just remember scooping her up, bringing her home and insisting she was buried in the garden. I just could not let her go.
Emotions run very high when we lose our pets. They are our friends, our confidants, our family. And we never want to imagine losing them, ever. But we sadly will. So I recommend you talk about it, briefly if needs be, say ok that's what we will do and move on. At least there's something you don't have to decide at a very emotional and heart breaking time.
Finally, please check out Private and Individual Pet Cremation and Pet Burial - The Pet Cemetery (petfuneralservices.co.uk) It really is an incredibly moving place. And the tea room is just gorgeous! Also, they are raising money for a memorial to honour Military Working Dogs with The National Military Working Dogs Memorial charity (NMWDM UK). Please take a look at what they hope to achieve and how wonderful the memorial will be, and if you can, please donate.
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