Friday, March 18, 2011


Finding a marketing niche in this economy is tricky and tough.  Recently I heard a success story of a land-owner making a go in pet funerals.  

We had many of those in our back yard as the kids grew up in Raleigh, NC.  

A little wooded area behind our house was the scene of eulogies for a rabbit, a dog and several gerbils.  It was a non-profit organization back then.  Here are a few memories of those pets in happier days.

Doug built this tree house and slide.

I just got off the phone with Mary, our daughter-in-law, as she described the death of their cat, SC.  It's pronounced Essey but stands for Scaredy Cat, aptly describing her nature.  After 13 years, she no doubt had lived out her nine lives and was loved, even before the arrival of their four children.  Sean, the oldest, even took her picture to class to share her passing at Show and Tell.  Caroline cuddles SC here.

Mary's description of the last moments of the cat's life broke my heart, "She struggled to walk but kept flopping.  I couldn't watch it so Kent took her to the family room.  He gently held and stroked her, telling her what a good kitty she'd been all these years.  Then she made a strange, haunting sound and died."  

Suddenly I burst into tears! Mary seemed startled.  I know I was.  

I'm not really even a pet person but when someone I love hurts, I feel their pain.  My 6'5" son was once again a little boy in my mind.  I saw him with his two sisters tell their beloved dog goodbye.  Dusty was hit by a car and we had to put him to sleep.  Years later all three kids would tell you their saddest day was on the way to the vet that last time.  I cried then too.

One night at church my sister-in-law, Gwen, told me, "Bumbus died."  (Bumpus was a black cocker spaniel my brother worked for during his college years.  He couldn't afford to buy her from the old lady, Mrs. Bumpus.  So he did chores for her until he earned the pup, named after his benevolent employer.)  I looked across the room at church and saw Ricky hiding his pain in conversation with folks who didn't know his loss.  I guess it's not something grown men share.  But my brother was hurting deeply.  I saw through his mask. 

Daddy loved Bumpus too.

I burst into tears as Gwen told me about it.  Then she burst into tears.  So we did what women do, we ran for the ladies' room where we dissolved into that strange mix of crying and laughter.  It was reminiscent of the graveyard scene in Steel Magnolias.  I wanted to hit Weezie!

"Gwen, I didn't even like Bumpus!  Why am I crying?"

"I know.  Me too," she commiserated.

I had just written the above words when another animal death was reported to me during Phyllis' piano lesson with Tina.  Her younger brother, Kevin, came to hang around.   He played in our front yard then came in with, "Mrs. Henderson, a bird died in your pond.  I made a grave for him."  So I went outside and saw the little yellow finch in a 6" grave as Kevin tenderly covered the bird.  

Later I came back out and saw the circle of rocks placed around the fresh dirt.  Three little sticks stood upright respectfully.  Kevin used what he could find in our front yard.

If God sees the sparrow fall, then he saw the yellow finch that day too.  It reminded me to "look at the birds of the air.  They do not sow or reap or store in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Yes, I am.  He delights in me, collects my tears in a bottle, knows my daily hair-count and sings over me!

So if times get tough, I think I may have found my calling.  I could be a pet mourner.  I think it was pretty standard fare in biblical times.  Hired mourners would weep and wail following the body through town to fake love for some unknown, but well-paying, deceased. 

Being a pet lover is not required.  Real tears are.  I can do that!

Because I love people,


  1. I can't believe you left out the recent death of Precious, the last cat we ever owned.

  2. Hannah Jones-Gupton (pictured with our kids in the family room. . .the ORANGE FAMILY ROOM!) March 18, 2011 at 8:02am:

    Awww! And I remember that dog! Good memories of when you all lived there! It was never the same...

  3. Victor Caine (my brother-in-law) wrote:

    I cannot prove it one way or the other, but I'm convinced pets of all sorts will be among those who greet us in heaven.

  4. Kimberly GraingerApril 2, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Aww, loved seeing pics of Charmin the rabbit (you know: "Don't squeeze the Charmin." Some did, and earned pellets...)