Funeral Industry News

Pet Owners Turn Caskets into Resting Places for Two

September 24, 2009
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Pet Owners Turn Caskets into Resting Places for Two

SPRINGFIELD — Baby boomers have made an impact on every part of American culture from the crib to, now, the funeral. We spotted one part of this trend by taking a closer look at an obituary photo. It seems pets are now starting to stay by their owners’ sides, even when the owners are six feet under.

We all end up alone in the end. A casket is built for one, and we go down in the ground with hopes of reaching the other side. Not Audrey Swigert. Her obituary photo includes her dog, Molly. These two were a team in life — and in death.

Swigert never went anywhere without Molly; that includes when she moved to Magnolia Square nursing facility. She demanded that she be able to take Molly along — and Molly had already been cremated.

“Having her ashes here and demanding that they be here, that was a different request than we had ever dealt with before,” said Dawn Jones of Magnolia Square.

It didn’t take long for the staff to see Swigert’s love for all things, from the fish in the aquarium to visiting dogs.

“When the folks come in with poodles, oh boy, that was just Audrey’s greatest thing,” said Jones.

As it turns out, a man’s or a lady’s best friend is more and more often a best friend forever.

“They feel as strongly about having that pet with them as they do about having their spouse buried next to them,” said Lenny Cope.

At Magnolia Square, the staff’s biggest worry was knocking the box over and spilling Molly’s ashes. It was more valuable than all the diamonds in the world to Swigert.

“The housekeepers were very, very careful in cleaning around the room,” said Jones.

Nobody doubted Swigert’s intentions: Molly would go with her.

“Wherever Molly ended up, that’s where Audrey wanted to be as well,” said Jones.

The National Funeral Director’s Association is seeing other trends develop. Green funerals are on the rise, cremation requests are increasing and more people want video memorials played at the visitation.