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The 2nd Annual Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony was held on June 5, 2010. Invitations were sent to owners of Veterinary Medical Center patients that had died during the past year.
As owners entered the Wexner Auditorium, they received a special gift of a flower pot and forget-me-not seeds, as well as individualized name tags that listed both the owner and the animal names.
The ceremony began at 11:00 with a greeting from Joelle Nielsen, program coordinator for Honoring the Bond. Nearly 130 attendees listened to three speakers. Joelle Nielsen spoke about the different types of companion animal loss and the differences and similarities among attendees. Dr. Bridget Urie spoke about the perspective of being a veterinarian and working with the special animals and their owners. Cindy Bowman, MDiv, BCC, discussed healing after the loss of a companion animal.
Following the speakers, a slide show featuring photos submitted by owners played while owners wrote a message or prayer for their lost pets on a paper heart. The hearts are biodegradable and have wild flower seeds implanted in them. Owners respectfully hung their hearts on a Remembrance tree outside the Coffey Road entrance, while Ryan Jones played guitar.
Afterward, participants shared refreshments and reminisced about never forgotten friends with each other.
Following are just a few of the comments that were received from attendees, after the ceremony:
"Thanks for including me in the beautifully touching ceremony. What a wonderful remembrance and ceremony; a moment in time, not to be forgotten on many levels."
"It was very therapeutic for me."
"Thank you so much for the beautiful remembrance ceremony. It was a wonderful way to remember our animals."
"The ceremony was overwhelming at times, but a big help to share with everyone else there, and to share in everyone else's grief and the healing process."
"It was beautiful. It was very heartfelt that OSU would do all of that for us. There were plenty of tears and a few laughs. We were all in the same situation, dealing and healing from our losses, but were made to feel so welcomed, comfortable and not afraid to show our emotions. But it was so very touching that OSU thought of the animals so much to honor their memories and how they touched our lives so much."
"I think it's a very thoughtful thing your group has done, and it helped to know that many people feel the same way I do about my pets."
I found the Ceremony to be a wonderful celebration of our loving companions that have left us - only physically, but NEVER in spirit."
"Thank you for organizing this wonderful event. We have many rituals that help us deal with the loss of people we love, but none for the loss of our beloved animal companions. Often, the people in our lives expect us to be "over" the loss of them very quickly and when that doesn't happen, they think something is wrong with us."
"...I truly appreciate the opportunity to honor and remember her as well as grieve her passing. The "heart" ceremony was wonderful. I will stop by the tree when I next come to Columbus."