Fluke's Aftercare
Published Articles
From time to time, we are approached by our local newspaper to include an
article on Cremation & Pet Loss in their publications. We have included them here
on our website for your reading.
Published in the Lewiston Sun Journal
Monday, May 3, 2004

Cremation: Final Care of your Pet’s Body
By Linda Desrosier

The loss of a pet is undeniably a stressful time for the family left behind. For many years, we have been subject to
the comfort, joy, loyalty and devotion they have brought into our lives. They have become our companions, helping
us to feel less lonely and isolated. It is through this and their unconditional love that we form such an emotional
connection. A connection so powerful, that when a pet dies, we are as overwhelmed with grief as in our human
counterparts. They have become, unquestionably, our family members.

Though not a subject that we are inclined to think about, it is best to explore the options available to you before your
pet dies. When humans die, we go to great lengths to create funeral services that are therapeutic and help us in our
grieving process. Unfortunately, when our pets die, we are left to our own devices, but that is changing. City and
county regulations may not permit burial in the back yard as in days of old. Pet cemeteries are now the alternative.
Cremation, however, is quickly becoming a popular and practical option for handling the bodies of our deceased
pets. It is an ecologically safe method for veterinarians to dispose of the bodies of those pets whose owners aren’t
comfortable bringing the body home or retaining the ashes. Many pet owners, however, want to keep their
companions ashes close by and also available to take with them if they move. Some owners will even choose to have
their pet’s ashes interred with them when they die.

Where humans have had a choice of funeral directors to go to when a loved one dies, pet owners have not had that
same choice. Until recently, the only choice we have had is to leave the aftercare of our pet’s bodies to the
veterinarians. There, the bodies are stored in a freezer until they are picked up on a specific pre-scheduled day(s)
of the week, are cremated and the ashes returned to the vet’s office on a subsequent pickup. This option is viable,
but in these changing times, pet owners want more involvement. There are services now available for those who
require a more personalized approach with same day service for approximately the same cost. Cremation costs can
vary and are dependant upon the size of the pet. Urns, if purchased, are another cost to be factored in and can cost
anywhere from $15 all the way up to $500.  

In the cremation process itself, an intense heat returns your pet’s body to its basic elements. This process can take
several hours depending on the size of the pet. Cremated remains, called “cremains” are the end result. Cremains
resemble sand-like particles or small pebbles, which can range from a light gray to white in color depending on the
process used, and can be with or without larger chips of bone. Generally, the cremains are contained in a plastic
bag, which is then placed in a small urn. There are many designed for this purpose or you may also choose another
suitable container. Depending on local regulations, cremains can also be buried or scattered in a meaningful place,
perhaps at your pet’s favorite spot in the yard.      

There are also two choices of cremation: Mass or Private. Mass Cremation is when more than one pet’s body is
cremated at one session. This method is less expensive and more widely used by veterinary offices and clinics. In
private cremation, only one pet’s body is cremated with the intent of the cremains being returned to the owner.  If
private cremation is not specified yet you would like a return of cremains, you may receive the cremains of other pets
in addition to your own. This explains why private cremations are more expensive. Sadly, many owners, though
having chosen private cremation, are not totally convinced that the cremains received are solely those of their pet.
Some crematoriums will allow attended cremations where the pet owner can be as involved, within reason, as they so
choose. This can help to alleviate any fears as well as offer emotional support.

It is important to know that you have chosen a reputable pet crematorium where your pet will be treated with the
respect, compassion and dignity it deserves. When deciding on cremation, the best advice is to look in the
classifieds of your local newspaper or telephone directory and ask around.

Remember that regardless of which method you ultimately select to handle your pet’s body, they will live forever in
your heart.

FMI, contact Linda Desrosier at Fluke's Aftercare, 340 Oak Hill Road, Litchfield, 1-877-268-2912 or visit www.
FlukesAftercare.com.

Saying goodbye: Grieving the loss of a pet
By Linda Desrosier

For many, the loss of a pet can be as devastating as the loss of a human counterpart. When deciding to invite a
furry or feathered being into our home, a commitment has been made for what literally is a lifetime-their lifetime.

We bring these wonderful creatures into our lives, caring for their every need. We feed them, bathe them, and make
sure that their health is looked after. They naturally become part of our family unit.

For those of us lucky enough to enjoy their companionship and unconditional love for 20 years or more, losing them
can be truly overwhelming.

The little things that may have been taken for granted such as the clicking of nails on the floor, the jingling of tags,
bells, or wheels is one day gone. For someone who has shared a close bond with an animal, this silence can be
deafening. Routines and chores that have been established for years are suddenly absent, leaving a sense of
confusion.

Oftentimes, owners who have lost a pet feel all alone in their pain and are embarrassed to admit they are overcome
with grief for fear that other people won't understand.

Well meaning friends and family members may use such phrases as "it was only a dog" or "it was only a cat." While
that sentiment may hold true for some, it doesn't necessarily hold true for others. To them, whether it had four legs,
wings, scales or a shell, this animal was a cherished companion, a faithful hunting buddy or perhaps the surrogate
child that they could never have. Their hearts only know that they have lost something they truly cherished in life
and it hurts.

Grief is an invisible pain. Unlike a physical injury, we don't have cuts or bandages visible for those close to us to
see. There are many emotions that arise from a loss of a pet. Among them are shock, disbelief, anger and guilt.
Especially difficult is the guilt, particularly when euthanasia has been involved. It is never easy to cause a heart
pain, and euthanasia is the greatest act of love that a pet owner can show an ailing pet. "Maybe I could have done
more" is one of the most common thoughts.

Though it was the right decision to release the pet from pain, suffering and poor quality of life, many owners
second-guess their decisions. This, too, can intensify the stress involved when grieving for a pet. The same can
also hold true if the pet has died in an accident.

The mourning period can vary from person to person and should not be given a timeline. As we are all individual, so
is our level of grief. Some may choose to get another pet in a relatively short matter of time. For them, inviting
another pet in the home can prove to be therapeutic and provide comfort. Others may need to wait, as having
another pet in their life may prove too painful and provoke too many memories of the pet that has passed.

In either case, it is a testimony to the love shared with their pets. A time of mourning is nothing to be ashamed of
regardless of the circumstances. Crying is a normal, healthy, coping mechanism and is part of the process of
healing. It is nothing to be embarrassed about and helps to release the pent up feelings of the mind, body and heart.

The level of understanding that a pet owner receives when their companion has died is not as widely acceptable as
with a human family member. Someone who was sympathetic when grandpa died may not be as supportive when a
pet dies. It is important to seek out those who understand and are there for you. Talking is another outlet and an
additional healing mechanism. Those who have experienced the loss of a pet themselves are a wonderful resource.
You can talk openly about your feelings and by doing so, validate that your feelings are absolutely normal. Pet loss
support groups and hot lines are established throughout the country. On the internet, there are many wonderful
sites dedicated to pet bereavement.

As time passes, the grief will lighten but the pain of having a pet absent from your life will always remain. Over time,
the memories that bring unbearable pain and tears when your pet is first gone from your life will gently and quietly
bring solace to your heart. Remember that although their physical presence is absent, they will always be with you in
spirit.

For more information about pet cremation services, contact Linda at Fluke's Aftercare, 340 Oak Hill Road, Litchfield.
Call 207-268-2912 or toll free 1-877-268-2912.