By Stephanie Di Traglia
Last Saturday, August 13th, we here at The Pet Loss Center were honored to participate in and sponsor a beautifully reverent night of love and honor as Lake Baldwin came alive with floating lanterns at the 4th Annual Canine Memorial.
It all started in 2012 when event founder Jannette Mattos said goodbye to her Beloved Brandon, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever. Jannette shared:
“During the following months, as our family grieved over our pet, friends, neighbors and even strangers came out to us to share their stories of loss and bereavement with us. That’s when it became painfully obvious to us that we all shared the same feelings of isolation as there wasn’t much support out there for those who grieve for a pet. We realized that what we all needed most as a group was to have our feelings validated…Motivated by that, my daughters and I decided to coordinate a collective memorial in order to provide everyone with the opportunity to honor and bid farewell to their treasured companions. The first Canine Memorial was held on the one year anniversary of our beloved Brandon’s passing, July 27th, 2013.“
Now, four years later an ever growing number of families attend this beautiful event. Families surrounded themselves in support, comforting each other, sharing hugs, tears and smiles, creating unique and individual lanterns to be released together on the lake. It was inspiring to watch strangers connect in their uniting bond of the love of their pets, and the stories shared with me left lasting prints on my heart. The night’s ceremonies started with beautiful songs, poems and prayers leading to an open mic for anyone wanting to tell their tails. As the sun set over the lake, kayakers gathered around the dock carefully collecting each special lantern. Not a dry eye was in sight as they were set free onto the lake, drifting peacefully, their glowing light a shining example of the love shared. The sense of peace and community was all encompassing, removing the feelings of isolation that grief can often bring. Watching the flicker of the candles reflect against the water, I knew that our saying was true “Always know that when you go, this journey takes me too”.
Photography by Carsten Basile