The sixth annual Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony, organized by the Veterinary Medical Center's Honoring the Bond program, took place on May 17, 2014.
The ceremony allows owners dealing with the loss of a pet or pets to gather together for a collective memorial service. The Honoring the Bond team helps owners to express emotions and memories and provides support during difficult decision-making or grieving. There were approximately 130 attendees in 2014.
“The Remembrance Ceremony gives people a sense of closure and provides an opportunity for them to remember and grieve the loss of their pet,” said Joelle Nielsen, a full-time licensed social worker employed by the VMC and coordinator of Honoring the Bond. “I enjoy my job because I can help during a natural part of life. If I can help someone through the hard process and make it easier on them, then I have done my job.”
The Honoring the Bond Program has been coordinated by Joelle since 2007 and in 2009 the inaugural Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony was held. She was given the idea of a ceremony through the Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service, which supports the Honoring the Bond programs and suggested there was a need for a “funeral service” for people’s pets. The owners who gathered at the Remembrance Ceremony seemed to share a mutual understanding toward each other; they were not alone with their feelings of the loss of a pet.
Each year the service has included a slide show with pictures that owners submit of their pets or related memories. This year, several people spoke about the grief process including Karin Zuckerman, Megan Breit, Roberta Knauf, Diane and Chris Moscato and Joelle Nielsen.
Participants placed painted rocks around the Remembrance Tree area by Coffey Road, depicted in the image above, and had the option of creating a variety of memorial items in honor of their pet.