Are your eyes feeling a little dry? Has your cat gone too many days without being smothered with hugs and gross declarations of “I love you SO MUCH, cat-face, you are my fluffy, little cat-baby”?
If so, head to the Rainbow Bridge Hearts Facebook page. Maybe you’re made of stronger stuff than me, but after a reading a few heartfelt posts and testimonials about the work that Rainbow Bridge Hearts does, my cat Brandy didn’t stand a chance against my mushy embrace.
Rainbow Bridge Hearts‘ business is not reducing pet lovers to blubbering cat annoyances. Rather, the company creates memorials.
“Forever memories,” as described by Chief Operating Officer Richard Phillips.
Founded by Greg and Christina Dale, Seattle-based Rainbow Bridge Hearts Memorial Glass Art for Pets creates glass artwork using a small amount of ash from a pet’s cremated remains. Rainbow Bridge Hearts artists create a heart- or ball-shaped glass work of art that memorializes a deceased pet.
“Every pet memorial we create, be it for a dog, a cat, a horse, a pig, a rabbit, a ferret, or a parrot, has a very special meaning for each of us,” says Richard. “We treat pets as if they were people, in every aspect of the process.
“I tell our clients that I am truly honored to have been chosen to create this forever memory for their family,” he says. “They place their loved ones in the hands of a total stranger and in return, I return them tears of joy and forever memories.”
How does Rainbow Bridge Hearts create the memorial pieces? And what is involved for the pet parent? The process is simple, thoughtful, and elegant — despite the use of cremated remains.
After a pet parent contacts the company, Richard details the options, resources, and the process of creating the memorial glass art. In looking over the materials Richard sends to clients, I found the detailed information comforting. There was no mystery, no business jargon or “upselling” I’ve (sadly) come to find in the literature of some post-death pet care companies.
The materials were to the point, respectful, and sensitive — exactly what I would want if I were mourning the loss of a pet.
Once a pet parent decides to move forward with a glass memorial, she or he has three decisions to make. Writes Richard:
1. Email me your name, your pet’s name, your address, and phone number.2. I need your color choice and either a Heart or a Round. [An online catalog can be found on the company website]3. If you’d like either or both of the options, please let me know that as well.That’s it. I’ll confirm everything with you and the process has begun. I’ll mail you an order form to review and an “Authorization to Infuse” form for you to read and sign. You can return both of these forms when you send the ashes to me.
Richard says the cremated remains of more than one pet can be mixed and incorporated into a glass art piece, but the number of pets in one piece is limited to three because there’s limited inscription space on the bottom of the memorial.
Each piece of memorial glass art contains about a teaspoon or less of a pet’s ashes, which a pet parent mails to Rainbow Bridge Hearts. Any ashes not in the glass art are carefully returned to the pet parent.
Among the things that impresses me about Rainbow Bridge Hearts: It acknowledges, and even embraces, the emotional aspect of what clients go through.
If a grieving pet parent needs help collecting ashes from an urn, Richard offers guidance and help. I thought this small gesture was a nice touch. Everyone has different levels of comfort, and knowing that you’re not alone in doing what might be an emotional or upsetting step makes this feel like care for a pet as opposed to the mere passing off of remains.
Upon receiving the ashes, Rainbow Bridge Hearts working with the Glass Eye Studio in Seattle to craft the glass memorial. Each piece is created by a skilled artist. According to Rainbow Bridge Hearts, if a finished piece is cracked or possesses “inartistic quality issues,” a new piece will be created within 10 days and the pet parent “will receive both memorials.”
After the memorial is complete, the piece must cool for several days. The average time from receiving of the ashes to a pet parent receiving the glass memorial is two to four weeks.
Here’s a video that details the creation of a glass memorial.
“I can’t imagine a better job,” says Richard. “The responses from my clients reinforce my feelings each and every time I return a family member back to their loved ones.”
Again, check out Rainbow Bridge Hearts’ Facebook page to see the response from clients. There is no escaping the sadness in the work the company does, but the alchemy of changing tears of loss to tears of joy is no small feat.
The “heart” of Rainbow Bridge Hearts is the idea of the Rainbow Bridge Poem. If you haven’t read it, know that it’s lovely, but as a lifelong pet parent, I can’t get through it without some serious tears. Essentially, the Rainbow Bridge Poem is about our beloved pets leaving us when they pass, freed from suffering, but waiting for us to be reunited with them someday. (Just a second, there’s something in my eye …)
That is what Rainbow Bridge Hearts does: It reunites people with their pets.
“The spirit of the Rainbow Bridge lives in all of our clients as well as all of here at Rainbow Bridge Hearts,” says Richard.
And though a piece of beautiful glass art will never be as beautiful as your pet, it can give you another chance to hold your fur-baby close, until you meet again.
About the author: Louise Hung is a morbidly inclined cat lady living in Hong Kong, with her cat, her man, and probably a couple ghost cats. She also writes for xoJane. You can follow her on Twitter or drop her a line at IamLouiseMicaela@gmail.com.