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After Care

Water Cremation: The Wave of the Future for Eco-Friendly Pet Parents

March 4th, 2024 by Ima Admin

Saying goodbye to a beloved companion animal is one of the hardest things a pet parent faces. Whether the goodbye is a natural occurrence or a peaceful euthanasia, pet parents historically have only had the options of burial or flame cremation.

For pet parents who say their goodbyes at a veterinarian practice, the veterinarian often doubles as undertaker, sending the pet’s body to a crematorium. Flame-based pet cremation has the unfortunate impact of a sizable carbon footprint due to the carbon dioxide the flaming chambers release. For example, a traditional human cremation chamber releases over 535 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a three hour period.

Burial carries its own set of issues from an environmental standpoint, ranging from land use, to water and chemical contamination management.

Water cremation – also known as Aquamation – offers pet owners a futuristic, planet-friendly alternative. Grand Rapids is home to one of approximately 400 worldwide pet aquamation facilities, and that number is on the rise as environmental awareness increases.

“While one pet may not seem to make a difference environmentally, collectively speaking, water cremation can have an enormous impact of reducing emissions in the pet sector. Aquamation is compact, efficient and generates no direct emissions – making it the greenest technology available,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and its sister company, Heaven at Home Water Cremation & Memorials.

Water cremation uses alkaline hydrolysis to mirror nature’s process of decomposition through the combination of gentle water flow, temperature and alkalinity. Just like flame creation, pet parents can choose private water cremation or communal water cremation. Beloved companions are placed in a pod and then encircled in a gentle bath of 95% warm water and a 5% alkaline solution. The alkalized water decomposes all of the body’s proteins and fats, resulting in clean remains. The leftover water, called effluent, is a sterile, nutrient rich, DNA & disease-free water solution that can be returned to the earth.

This service is available directly or through a request to a pet parent’s vet clinic.

After water cremation, the cremains are then returned to the pet parents with their choice of options to memorialize the life of their companion. Options may include paw prints, nose print art, urns, scatter tubes, and/or cremain-infused glass sculptures, touchstones, or jewelry.

“Pet loss grief is very real, and saying goodbye to a beloved companion is difficult,” Dr. Brush said.”Memorializing that bond helps the healing begin.”

Gifts of Remembrance

November 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

Pet Loss grief can be as difficult as traditional grief – if not more so – for two reasons: It’s not universally acknowledged, and at the same time, our loyal companions are an unparalleled source of unconditional love and acceptance.

“We opened our Aftercare Center to help our home euthanasia clients honor their bond and memorialize their companion animals. We realized through our work with the West Michigan Pet Loss Grief Support Group that healthy healing is promoted through memorialization,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and Aftercare Center.

While the primary service available at the new Aftercare Center is water-based cremation (Aquamation) – an environmentally-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation – resources for grief support and memorialization are also available for pet families. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Help The Pet Left Behind

January 3rd, 2022 by Ima Admin

Pet parents who’ve had to make the difficult decision to euthanize a beloved animal companion are especially vulnerable to grief during the darker days of winter. What may complicate the situation further is witnessing the grief of companion animals left behind.

“Research suggests dogs and cats do experience behavior changes after the death of a fellow companion animal,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and Aftercare Center.

“A great advantage of home euthanasia is that it gives companion animals left behind a chance to process and understand what’s happened.”

In dogs, which are highly social animals, studies have shown that grief can last two to six months if they were closely bonded with their fellow pup. While less social generally, some cats do also grieve – and vocalize loudly – typically if they’ve lost a relative in particular. Read the rest of this entry »

Coping With Pet Loss Grief During the Holidays

December 1st, 2021 by Ima Admin

The holiday season can be bittersweet for people who’ve lost – or are getting ready to say goodbye – to a loyal companion animal. Coping with pet loss grief during a season that’s purportedly “jolly” can be especially challenging.

“Pet loss grief is especially difficult during the holidays because it’s “disenfranchised grief” – grief that cannot be easily publicly mourned – and households generally become busier with holiday prep stress and guests. At the same time, people often face making the difficult euthanasia decision during the holidays because they’re home to see the decline in their pet’s quality of life,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

If you have a pet with a life-limiting disease or who is in rapid decline, there are things you can do in preparation for euthanasia to promote healthy grief and healing. Read the rest of this entry »

Aquamation: Water Under the Rainbow Bridge

July 1st, 2021 by Ima Admin

Whether your senior pet crosses the “Rainbow Bridge” naturally, or with a peaceful and compassionate euthanasia at home, there is always the question of aftercare. In the past, there were two choices: burial or cremation.

Soon the purveyors of compassionate home pet hospice and euthanasia will be giving their clients – and other pet parents – a third and more environmentally-friendly option called aquamation. Read the rest of this entry »