Disclaimer: This post reflects only my beliefs and is not intended in any way to devalue or disrespect those of anyone else.
My friend Kristen has an aged mare that she did not expect to survive her recent move to Texas. Contrarily, the mare is happy and thriving, but the point is that Kris' concern led her to line up final arrangements. Having no experience with equine disposal myself, I used the opportunity to collect the information for when that time comes for my two. And it will. It always does. It's just part of (sing it with me) "the circle, the circle of life".
Kris chose an option wherein the mare would be buried with room left for future horses. Kris said she thought Wynnie would like being with her friends. I didn't mean to be insensitive (I was), but I blurted out, "I'm sure her spirit would, but that's just her body."
I've been down this road many times with other, albeit smaller, animals. It's never pleasant, but it's getting ... easier ... as I get older and face my own mortality. I watched the 17-year old feline love of my life get more and more frail in the last years of his life. That cat and I were seriously connected; we adored each other. I was afraid that in losing him, I might lose myself.
When the day came, Dr. G came to the house, and BooBoo passed peacefully in my lap, purring like crazy. Dr. G presented all the options: mass burial, individual grave site, headstone, cremation, did I want the ashes, etc. And I heard myself say, "No. That's just his body. He's not in it." I had no problem asking for the least expensive, most expeditious disposal of that which my friend no longer needed.
Of course I cried. But very quickly, something else took over: overwhelming gratitude that we got to be together in this life. And the gratitude yielded joy, because I believe that although his body failed him, his enormous spirit never will. I jumped in my truck that beautiful spring day and headed to the farm to play with the new babies and celebrate life. I think of him often. Sometimes I sing or whistle to him, which he loved. But it's never sad; thoughts of him always make me smile. We'll find each other again, if in fact we ever lost each other.
I feel the same way about my own eventual remains, and those of my loved ones, although I would respect their final wishes. Harvest any parts that might help someone have a better life, then feed me to the turkey buzzards for all I care. Services, lovely markers, etc. are for the living. Those who have passed have no need for such things.
Some of us that are still alive have no need for such things. I never visit the graves of those whom have passed, including that of my own father. My Mom insisted on having a Catholic funeral mass for him, although he hadn't set foot in a church in 40 years. I'm not sure if it was one final attempt to save his soul or passive-aggressive revenge for the fact that he was domineering and miserable to live with. Whatever it was, it made for some good laughs, because everyone knew that's the only way she'd get his sorry ass in church!
How do you/would you handle the death of one of your animals?