Recently I had the pleasure – and honor – to talk with the team over at DogMilk.Com about Maggie, Memorials and how to move on. With September being National Pet Memorial Month, it was the perfect time to chat with them, and share my story and insights that surround this difficult time for pet lovers everywhere. In case you missed it, I’ve reposted the discussion here. I hope it inspires your own path of moving forward.
DISCUSSING PET MEMORIALS WITH KATHY KUHL OF NELLI DESIGNS
The following post is brought to you by Nelli Designs. We’re very paw-ticular about our partners and only feature those we think are top dog.
Pets touch our lives in the deepest and most profound ways, so it’s no surprise that losing a beloved animal companion is one of the hardest things you can go through as a pet parent. And sometimes finding the right way to honor them and keep their memory alive can be even more challenging. With this in mind, and September 14th marking National Pet Memorial Day, we turned to Kathy Kuhl of Nelli Designs to discuss the inspiration behind her line of pet memorial candles.
What made you decide to start making pet memorial candles?
When our first dog, Maggie, passed away 6 years ago, I needed something that would honor her and our time together. Something personal about Maggie that made me reflect back on our 14 years together. Other than photos, I had her red leather collar and tags – the same ones that jangled with excitement every time I came in the door. So, being candle-obsessed, I made a candle and fit a replica red leather collar around the neck and hung her tags there. I placed the candle next to the door so I could jangle her tags as I came and went. I just needed that connection to her. And it seemed to help in the days, weeks, months and now years, to move on and continue to remember her 14 years of pure love.
In the weeks after Maggie’s passing, I had several friends lose their dogs, so I made candles for them, too. It was after requests came pouring in from friends, then strangers, that I realized others needed a way to connect with their pets just as I did. Upon adopting Nelli, I felt it was a great tribute to Maggie from Nelli to launch a business in her honor.
What exactly IS a pet memorial candle? Tell me more about what it means to you, to other owners, and how it helps heal.
To me, a pet memorial is something that connects you to that time and space you once shared with your pet. Whatever it is. It can be anything. As long as it provides that personal connection for you, that is all that is important. It’s remembering and honoring that pet and all you shared that provides the healing to move forward again.
For me, a candle made the most sense. It provides a place where I can hang her tags, and lighting it each night still provides that sense of comfort I need when I’m missing Maggie the most.
You’re now also offering horse and cat memorial candles – have you noticed that other types of pet owners are also memorializing their pets?
Absolutely! I’m a dog lover – I cannot recall a time in my life I didn’t have a dog. But I have friends who have lost cats and/or horses who meant everything to them. And they seek the same comfort when they face that same moment in time of having to say goodbye. Our connections to our pets can be stronger than the ones we have with family, friends and neighbors – they are the only ones who truly – TRULY – love unconditionally without any judgment of our shortcomings.
They are hand-poured individually in my studio, and I assemble and ship each order out – with the support of our dog, Nelli, and my very understanding husband when his work-day is done. Each candle is made with 100% soy wax, and scented with a blend of essential oils and fragrances meant to evoke those special memories: Rolling in Grass, Wet Dog (fresh rain), Big Stick (driftwood) and Lazy Days (lavender).
As someone who has lost a pet, what would be your best advice on helping grieving owners?
Find a way or something that you can see, touch, smell that brings comfort and memories of your time together. Focus on what your pet gave to you – how did you benefit from your pet being in your life?
My husband and I have realized that Maggie gave us patience. As a Dalmatian/Golden Retriever mix, her energy level was off the charts! And not having kids in the house, Maggie’s shenanigans provided the necessary chaos we needed to be reminded life is not always neat and on schedule. So in the years since her passing, we have come to realize – and focus – on the fact that she taught us about patience and living in the moment; seizing the moments with all we’ve got, and enjoy every minute. With the gusto of a Dalmatian/Golden Retriever mix.