I lost my big tomcat Leo 10 years ago one beautiful spring day. All these years later, I still think of him in the springtime the most. I had just moved into a little cabin on some land in the mountains. I had adopted Leo and his sister Sadie together a couple years before and had moved them into the cabin with me. They liked it there and were very eager to explore outside, but I told them it wasn’t safe. I managed to foil their escape attempts for the first couple weeks and they seemed to have become pretty content with the selection of large, sunny windows with birds outside.
The day Leo escaped, I was lying on the floor with him and giving him a belly rub. He was a big cat with a lot of thick, soft belly fur and he liked to be rubbed a little rough. I’d just finished his belly rub when he rolled over lazily and curled his big paw around my arm and hugged it to him. It was one of the best moments I had with him…and one of the last.
That afternoon was sunny and warm and I went outside to enjoy the day. As I was leaving, Leo decided he was definitely coming with me this time and made a mad dash for the door from across the room. He disappeared into the forest right away, delighted to have finally begun his adventure. The next 3 days my girlfriend and I spent hours combing the forest and calling his name, visiting neighbors we hadn’t met yet, and posting flyers with his photo on them. Leo was a big tough tomcat so we thought he might just be on a kitty vision quest or something. On the third day, I was walking down a little path and spotted his body right in the middle of the path. An animal had killed my big buddy in his prime.
It was the first time I’d ever had a pet die and I was depressed for many weeks. I couldn’t believe the impact it had on me, my girlfriend, and Leo’s sister Sadie. Sadie would spend hours just staring out the window or sitting on the porch waiting for Leo to come back. It wasn’t the contented lounging Sadie usually enjoyed, but a sad vigil she kept with the hope that Leo would surely not leave her forever. After watching her this way for a couple months, we decided maybe another companion kitty would help her and us both.
We adopted Huna, a mischievious little cat who Sadie both loved and despised, depending on his behavior. Huna kept Sadie distracted by attacking her when she stared too long out the window, and he comforted her by cuddling up with her when she was sad.
None of us forgot Leo of course. We still talked about him and missed him, but the distraction of a new furry friend and the act of giving of love to him helped us all heal a little faster. Another thing that helped me to heal was spending hours of time on the torch in my glass shop. That’s good thinking time for me since I’m completely focused on the glass and outside distractions fade away.
It was during that time that I first began thinking how much it would help me to have a special object to keep close and remember Leo by. I had buried him the same day I found his body, so I had no ashes for the kind of glass pet cremation jewelry I now create. Instead I made a special pendant in his memory while thinking about him, putting those thoughts and feelings into the pendant as it was created.
That’s how Psyche Cremation Jewelry was born. I wanted to create for others the kind of beautiful and unique pet memorial jewelry I’d made for myself. Over the years I’ve refined my process and designs a lot, but the soul and spirit of my work remains the same.
My first experience with pet loss taught me many lessons. The first is empathy with others who’ve experienced a significant loss in their lives. You just can’t understand loss until you’ve experienced it. I also learned that new life and new blessings rise from the grief of a loss and add to life in ways you couldn’t imagine.
Making glass cremation jewelry is something I probably never would have considered if it wasn’t for my experience, but because of the loss of my pet I found a new passion. Now I’m doubly blessed to not only get to make beautiful glass cremation jewelry, but to also feel like I’m making a difference in other’s lives like I never did before.
If you’ve lost a pet recently, perhaps there’s some comfort in my story and a resonant knowing that yes, good can and does come from grief and loss. I think one of the best ways to release grief is to talk about it with others who understand. Even while writing this post 10 years after my loss, I felt a real release in sharing my story. This is one of the reasons I ask my cremation jewelry customers to share their stories. Not only do I want to get to know the person or pet I’m memorializing…I also know that just writing their story will help a lot.
If you have a story of pet loss that you think might help someone who’s lost their furry friend, please feel free to either leave it below or email it to me for possible inclusion in a curated collection of these stories here on this website. Each story helps both reader and writer process their own loss just a bit more, so whether you’re reading or writing, someone’s being helped.