Rae: ‘Until we meet again, brave little cat.’ The grief and taboo of burying our pets

Posted by

editor’s Note: Eric Tourigny is a lecturer in historical archeology at Newcastle University, UK. His research interprets osteological and material culture remains along with historical texts to examine changing human-animal relationships in Europe and North America over the past 500 years. The views expressed in this comment are his own. Read more Opinion On CNN.


Why do we bury our deceased loved ones in cemeteries? The primary purpose is to provide survivors with an opportunity to grieve and achieve a sense of closure. As much as the cemetery is a place for the living, it is also a place for the dead.

But what if the dearly departed is not a human being but our pets?

The Spanish city of Barcelona recently announced that it will invest in the establishment of The country’s first public pet cemetery. Set to open next year, it will facilitate both burials and cremations – something an estimated 7,000 people do each year.

For me, as someone who has spent years researching the development of pet cemeteries elsewhere in the world, this news came as a shock. Barcelona is a densely populated city with limited privately owned land. 50% of households have a pet.

How did that city become? home to 180,000 dogs Don’t already have a public pet cemetery? Till now, the service was provided only by the private sector, According to Eloi Badia, Barcelona’s councilor for the climate emergency and ecological transition. He said the municipally-funded initiative was born out of “persistent public demand”.

After all, public pet cemeteries exist in Europe and the US. Since the late 19th century. Britain’s first public pet cemetery appeared in London’s Hyde Park in 1881. New York’s Hartsdale Pet Cemetery was established in 1896, followed a few years later in 1899 by Paris’s ornate Cimetière des Chiênes.

I became interested in the history of modern pet burial practices while investigating the archaeological record of a centuries-old house in Toronto. I found a (very) large dog buried in the back garden, which, according to historical records, was kept between 1840 and 1870.

This dog lived to old age, but sadly suffered from degenerative joint disease and serious infections during his final months. His illnesses progressed to such an extent that it is known that he received some level of care in his final weeks. He was then buried in a private plot behind the family home.

This elderly dog ​​got me thinking about how people treat their pets’ bodies after death. Could this behavior reflect their relationships with their animals in life? In this example, why take the time to carefully bury a dog in the same spot when other, arguably easier options existed?

After all, this was the era when people often threw their dead pets into the river, or sold their bodies for meat and skins.

Good hygiene is an obvious reason to choose interment – ​​no one wants to have animal carcasses decomposing in the street or in their garden – but this would not immediately lead to the need for individual, dedicated interment and mausoleum.

The most straightforward option would be to dispose of the dead animal with household waste. But this kind of behavior will seem obviously less formal and probably won’t provide proper emotional closure to an important relationship.

Like the burial of people, the burial of pets is an intimate cultural practice that changes over time and reflects a society’s changing relationships with its beloved creatures.

My Study of historical gravestones and epitaphs in Britain It reflects changing human-animal relationships from the Victorian era to the present day. In the 19th century, gravestones were often dedicated to a “furry friend” or “devoted companion”, showing that pets were mostly considered important friends.

By the beginning of the 20th century, pets had become members of the family – evidenced by the presence of family surnames on gravestones and loving epithets written by “Mommy and Daddy.”

Society’s changing attitudes towards the role of animals in the afterlife can also be traced. Fast forward a few decades, and gravestones were more likely to reference reunification than earlier ones. For example, the owners of Denny, the “brave little cat” buried in an East London cemetery in 1952, wrote on his monument “God bless until we meet again.”

I wonder what the inscriptions in Barcelona’s new cemetery will reveal about modern Catalan relationships with animals.

Over time, the way we treat dead animals appears to reflect an even closer relationship with life. Once strictly prohibited by law, in the last decade many jurisdictions such as New York State have allowed it Co-burial of cremated animals and peopleWhich will undoubtedly lead to changing funeral and commemoration practices for both humans and animals.

To me, the most striking similarity between modern and historical pet cemeteries is the clear evidence of heartbreak and taboos associated with grieving for animals.

One’s relationship with one’s pet can be as strong and important as one’s relationships with other humans. Yet, just like more than 100 years ago, today individuals struggle to find the appropriate medium to express their pain, fearing the social consequences that come with public acknowledgment of the existence of such a bond. Hiding the pain.

RSPCA reassures the public on its website So that they don’t have to feel ashamed of their sorrow. In the UK, organizations such as charities blue Cross And Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Grief Center Provide counseling to bereaved people.

Close relationships between people and animals have existed for millennia, but in Western European cultures, there were few acceptable ways to mourn that relationship. As society begins to acknowledge the importance of human-animal relationships to our collective well-being, it is not surprising to see the rituals we use to mourn the loss of our closest human relationships. Let’s do it for.

At an estimated cost of €200 ($217) per service at the new Barcelona cemetery, it is important to acknowledge that this opportunity to mourn will not be financially available to everyone in the city.

There won’t be room for all the pets in the city. Pet owners can choose to keep the cremated remains within their home or spread the ashes at a meaningful location instead. online forums and digital pet cemetery Also provide other opportunities to celebrate the relationship and express grief.

Whether one chooses a pet cemetery or not, there are several acceptable ways to express one’s grief – and to remember one’s relationship with the important animals in one’s life.

#Rae #meet #brave #cat #grief #taboo #burying #pets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *