Apologies in advance for the extremely maudlin and sentimental start of this post! Those who wish to skip the gushy part can just go on to the heading BACK ON TOPIC.
Last week, we lost the redcap that my youngest daughter has had for about half of her life. As it wasn’t convenient to hold a proper service at the time, Frisky spent several days in a plastic bag in our freezer, but this weekend we held the burial. Yes, I know the traditional funeral for fish is through the porcelain gates, but my children think that’s “yucky”. So our tradition is to do a backyard service, with everyone saying a few words in memory of the departed pet and setting a seashell or pretty stone on the gravesite.
This is the second time we’ve done this, and just like last time, I cried almost as much as the kids. I never used to be this sentimental—not to say mawkish! But I can’t help relating to my children’s feelings—these pet burials have been their introduction to the whole idea of death and grieving, and I do want my children know that it’s OK to grieve. Maybe dealing with a pet’s death will in a small way prepare them for bigger losses. Yeah, maybe that’s why I cry—to set a good example.
Or maybe there are permanent hormonal changes when one becomes a mother that make tears come so much more easily than they ever did. Shall I blame it on the hormones? No, overall I’d rather tell myself I’m doing it to set a good example.
(getting tissue, blowing nose…)
BACK ON TOPIC
Of course, it makes me wonder if Regency folk had funerals for their pets. I did a little googling on the subject and found little about “our” period, but some other interesting tidbits:
- In 2004, the “carefully interred remains of a human and a cat were found buried with seashells, polished stones, and other decorative artifacts in a 9,500-year-old grave site on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.” Complete article at the National Geographic website.
- The ancient Egyptians mummified dogs, cats, monkeys and birds.
- During the Medieval period, people who were too obviously friendly with their pets might have been suspected of witchcraft, so the idea of pet burial was frowned upon. People still did it, or tried to. “As one French cleric arranged a formal Christian funeral for his little dog, news of the plan leaked to his supervising bishop, who demanded he appear before a tribunal to answer charges of heresy.” More at http://www.petcem.com/pet_burial_history.htm.
- Queen Victoria grieved for the loss of her first dog, a spaniel named Dash, leading the way for Victorians to conduct elaborate pet funerals. But then, Victorians never seemed inclined to keep anything simple.
I didn’t find anything in “our” period, but I haven’t had time to search for long. My guess is people who were really into animals, like Frederica, Duchess of York, who kept a veritable zoo at the Oatlands estate, must have done something for the dearly deceased.
Does anyone know?
Anyway, is it ridiculously sentimental to commemorate a pet’s death? At what point does it get too OTT (Over the Top)?
Elena, off for some more Kleenex…
LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, a Romantic Times Top Pick!