Remembering Coco & Radish, National Pet Memorial Day + the Oldest U.S.Pet Cemetery

National Pet Memorial Day

It’s National Pet Memorial Day, not that cat lovers need a holiday or reminders to remember. If you’ve loved and lost a special cat, you remember them often. In time, the memories shift and fragment. They fade but can be brought back in a flash with a photo or a whiff of a scent.  Some cats cling to our souls and others less so. Today is the 5th anniversary of Coco’s death. She was Merlin’s sister and you’d think given my attachment to him, I would have mourned Coco long and deep but I didn’t.  Part of the reason was her beautiful euthanasia and ceremonial burial in the garden. She loved the garden as all our cats do and my grieving process, while profound only lasted a couple months.

Grief, the trickster of emotions has a way of resurfacing and muddling old emotions with new. When I searched my photo archives for images of her last summer I found some I hadn’t seen in years.  I still can’t believe how good Coco looked at age 15 with no hint she would be dead of kidney failure 2 months later.  She gave no clues that anything was wrong but cats are masters of hiding symptoms.  I noticed she was spending more alone time on the love seat in my dressing room but she’d always loved that spot. Then I came across a photo of our dear Radish who died 12 weeks ago sitting on the same love seat just before he died and a wave of sadness came over me.

Coco cat memoriam

For years no one ever sat on the love seat except Coco and Merlin. After she died he stopped. Odin liked it for a while and then stopped. Domino and Gris Gris never liked it and neither has Nou Nou. I’d toss worn clothes on it not expecting it had much use. When I found Radish snuggled on some of my clothes my heart tore in two. It was so sweet but I took it as a bad omen. Then I noticed the photos of Coco were taken a few feet from Radish’s grave. More tears. I thought I had mourned Radish but I have lots more to process. I still haven’t been able to remove the makeshift memorial in the bathroom and I’m avoiding visiting his grave.  Very busy people like me sometimes use the busyness to avoid grieving. I like to think it’s on hold for awhile but I don’t recommend it.

Unfinished grief comes out in so many sneaky ways like illness, accidents, feeling really tired.  Come to think of it I’ve been extremely tired.  I could blame a hellish schedule but it’s probably time to listen to the wisdom of the body and feel the whole garden variety of feelings.

cats big sleep pet memorial day

Radish, the mystical magic cat continues to make his presence known in odd ways. I tried making a collage of his photos six! times and my Chrome browser kept crashing.  It’s the middle of the night and I have to occasionally sleep so I’ll take that as a sign to stop. I’ll try later tomorrow.

I live down the road from the oldest and most beautiful pet cemetery but have buried three cats in our garden.  It’s a personal preference as is all is things related to pet loss and grieving.  I like being reminded of  my dearly departed cats by simply looking out the window and seeing  their resting place.  The hammock, my favorite summer spot for kitty cuddles with Merlin is about 20 feet from Gris Gris’ grave.  It’s where Merlin will be buried. Some might find it morbid but I find it comforting and helps me stay in touch with the natural cycle of life. We’re lucky in New York state we can bury pets in our garden.

I often drive by the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and if you’re in the area, they’re doing their annual blessing of the animals on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015 at 1 pm. For a cemetery, it feels peaceful as most do but also oddly happy and hopeful.  I have a friend who says she wants to be buried there with her cats and I understand why.  No matter what the season, every corner of the grounds is immaculately maintained with flowers on most of the graves.  Of the 75,000 graves 700 are humans cremated with their pets ashes.

A couple weeks ago when I stopped by a funeral was going on. I respectfully kept my distance and didn’t take any photos.  Several mourners wiped away tears while a man officiated. I couldn’t hear his words but didn’t need to. The love and honoring of a pet with the same dignity as a human brought a few tears of my own.  Are you honoring any deceased pets today and would you want to be buried with your cat?  I found a useful link to individual state laws regarding carcass disposal. 

cat-gravestones-cemetery-hartsdale
A few loved cats at Hartsdale Cemetery. Gone but never forgotten.

And while not mentioned in the title,  we’d be remiss not to mention our dear Gris Gris who died in 2013.

cat memorial moon

There are many other pets who have graced my life, but I choose to focus on the cats who contributed to this blog since launching in 2011. That said, I’ll always remember my first kitten, Smokey and the many cats, dog, turtles and hamster who turned me into a life long animal lover and advocate.

27 thoughts on “Remembering Coco & Radish, National Pet Memorial Day + the Oldest U.S.Pet Cemetery”

  1. Several of the family dogs, as well as Dude and Sauce are at Petrest. You wont see the traditional cemetery markings such as urns, tombstones or markers; it is 5 acres of flowers, shrubs, bushes, trees…it has a small lake as well and pathways for walking through the property. They inter the ashes into the ground in such a way the garden{s} continue to grow and flourish. There are benches throughout for reflection/prayer ♥♥♥

  2. Each cat is so unique, there’s no rhyme or reason to which ones will ‘specially wind their way around our hearts. Six months now since my dear Tommie left us. I feel a pang writing that sentence… but also joy and gratitude for the great gift of having been his special person.
    One of my favorite movies is Harold and Maude. Young Harold tells Maude that he loves her. Elderly Maude replies, that’s wonderful, Harold. Now go love some more.
    xxoo

  3. I just saw how you wrote Coco had a beautiful euthanasia and that is how I feel about my Lucy. It was a beautiful day, she sat on my lap on the way to the vet and looked around. She was drugged on pain meds so she was happy and I let her go before she got too bad knowing she was full of cancer. Thank you for the words of comfort you left on my blog about Lucy. XO

  4. Yes… grief is fickle indeed. As you said, a certain whiff, image, sound, etc. is all that is needed to trigger at one point had seemingly been put to rest emotionally. I recently found myself in deep pain over the loss of a cat from over 30 years ago. I think it was not so much that she was gone, but that an era of my life was gone as well. Life was simpler then and I miss it…

    Purrs to you and yours…

  5. Purrs to you. My human says that sometimes grief just becomes a part of your life that you accept, that it takes over the part left empty by the one who left. She does not have a cat who affected her like this, but a very special friend who died suddenly some years ago. She has never, and probably will never stop grieving for him. He was like the brother she should have had but never did, and maybe even more special than that.

  6. I like your new look and colors! TW used to bury all the cats and goldfish in the yard. Then they sold the house and the new owners paved over the yard and all the cats. Luckily Nicky and Autumn aren’t there. Coco was a lovely cat as was Radish who left much too soon.

  7. They are always with us, from those who stayed the longest to those who spent only hours or days. I have surprisingly had no losses (yet) this year, but remember the many who have gone before now. Thinking of you in your losses.

  8. No matter the length of time, it’s never long enough, and there is no way around that because it’s inevitable that we will lose our cherished and beloved. I don’t know what Grief is supposed to look like or what it feels like for others because I find for myself that it morphs and changes constantly. Maybe that’s it, it’s like quicksand. You’re on firm ground and you take a step and your sinking. It’s been 761 days since I lost Abby. I miss her with the same intensity today as I did 761 days ago. I dreamt of her last night for the first time I remember. What is that a sign of? Other than today is her 25th month angelversary? I guess it’s just a sign of how much I miss her and how much it still makes my heart ache.

    1. Have you read the new study about extended grief? Dreams are powerful messengers. In Jungian dream analysis we are every part and character of the dream. I’ve found no references to pets but separated or divorced people will dream of the ex-spouse for a final time before closure. I send hugs for your continued courage.

  9. Every creature that I have ever encountered has left a mark on me in some way, if only a flash of memory. Life intertwines and there are threads of connection to all living beings, some thin and brief like a spiders silk, others like steel chains, strong and everlasting. We connect and bond and live and die. We mourn our losses in our own way and time but we all mourn. I cannot fathom not mourning the loss of a soul even if it is one that I may not have been close to. Every one matters, period. It is fitting that this memorial day comes in September because it is the month in which the seasons truly begin their transitions into one of change and slumber for us.
    We ask that all be blessed in their memories and their mourning and know that one day we WILL all be together again with ALL of those we love.
    Luvs
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang and the Angels >^..^^..^<~

  10. You know how many I grieve for. You had me crying while reading because of my connection with Radish and because of my own memories. Of course the recent losses of Sky and my dog Blizzard are still lying very close to the surface.

    I can only hope that my survivors honor my wishes and combine my ashes with those of all of my pets. They will know where to spread them. My only concern is the large volume of all those ashes 🙂

  11. My Brady passed in his sleep in June of 2003, just about a week before his 13th birthday. He been epileptic, having his first seizure at 10 months old. Medication had made the seizures few and far between but we’d always known that one could take him at any moment. I write all that detail because I want to explain how I was ready and completely blindsided by his death. He was a huge part of my life through several major events. I still sometimes drop my hand over the side of the bed, expecting to find his damp nose and soft fur under my fingers…….or wake up thinking I heard him rattling the tags on his dog collar to alert me that he needs to go out. He was one of my first pets as an adult, making me solely responsible for his health and happiness. I really hope I did a good job because he brought me a great deal of love and happiness. I’ll miss him always.

    1. Dorothy, thanks for sharing about your dear Brady. Whether young or old, sudden or expected some pets, I refer to them as soul pets are missed deeper and longer. They are a blessing and gift I wish everyone can experience one day.

  12. I understand your friend, I want that my pets will be buried with me once… and I hope those who will fulfill my last will are no wimps and they will ignore any regulations and restrictions…

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