Last year, West Seattle’s Kelly McInturff’s beloved cat, Mojo Jojo, passed away rather suddenly. At the time, they had not heard of pet funeral services.
“I never had a pet pass before so it was really hard and I wasn’t sure what to do,” McInturff said. “It was extremely chaotic and it was pretty horrible.”
Her husband was out of town and he was upset about not being there. So Kelly called Darci Bressler and Joslin Roth, co-owners of Seattle’s newest pet funeral home, Resting Waters.
“We’re a full fledged funeral home so we can do a memorial, we can do even a full funeral with the body on site,” said Bressler. “We do witnessings, in the same way that humans, you can do cremation witnessing. We offer a selection of urns, we’re in contact with artists who do memorial art. They do mourning jewelry. We can help with grieving. We let pet owners know about things like in-home euthanasiam, which is something we are huge advocates for.”
Environmentally friendly pet funeral
Resting Waters uses a fairly new technology, that no other pet funeral home in the city uses, a service called aquamation.
“Aquamation, it uses the science of alkaline hydrolysis,” Bressler explains. “So essentially it’s water cremation. You get back the same remains that you do with traditional flame based cremation. However, we use water flow and minerals to break down the soft tissues to create the bone ash remains.”
She says it’s far more environmentally friendly than flame-based cremation, and something many funeral directors hope will become legal for humans.
“It basically accelerates what happens if you were to place a deceased animal into the ground,” Bressler said. “We speed it up so something that could take months, or even years to occur — we do it in 20 hours.”
“So we have a stainless steel tank,” she said. “It fills up with water — about 204 degrees. We add sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, just five percent solution of that to the water. For 20 hours there’s slow water flow in the tank. At the end of the 20 hours, all that is left is the bone remains ash mineral take-home remains that you get.”
It was important for McInturff to have MoJo’s remains.
“MoJo was my little girl,” McInturff said. “I had her for 14 years and she was basically my first pet. My brother, I told him about it, my dad, I told him about it, and they both gave me a ton of grief, like, ‘She’s a pet, get over it.’ I just took it with a grain of salt. They don’t understand. Maybe they would if they had a pet they were close to. But I chose to go this way.”
The death industry is brand new to Bressler and Roth, but both feel like they found their calling. Roth says she’s never been afraid of the dead, and a goal of the business is to teach and encourage death-positive culture.
“A long time ago we touched our dead and we took care of them,” Roth said. “We loved on them, we kept them in our homes, we washed them ourselves. And it’s become commonplace to make a phone call and have a body removed the moment death occurs. Which isn’t necessary and it’s completely legal to care for you loved ones after they pass. So it’s something we talk to our clients about.”
“You don’t have to have us come right away,” she said. “Do you want hours, do you want a day? We can tell you how to preserve the body at home so we can come 24 hours from now. You can touch it and pet it and love it. On one of our home pickups, we arrived to a man cuddling a dog wrapped in a baby blanket, crying and loving. That’s what we want. We want people to know it’s safe, it’s a good way to mourn; to touch the dead and love them and not be fearful of it. And accept that we will all die so why not make it a positive experience?”
Resting Waters picked up MoJo JoJo’s body and arranged a viewing service, so McInturff’s husband could see the cat one more time.
“They’ve been extremely kind and sympathetic and hopeful,” McInturff said, tearful. “It’s been, as far as the experience, the best experience in the worst situation.”