The first hair keepsake I created used hair from my dog Max, made just a few months before he passed. At that time, I didn’t know how much longer he was going to be around. I was traveling for university and only saw him every 6 weeks at my parent’s house. The hair keepsake idea developed as a way for me to feel connected with him while carrying a piece of him with me. When the necklace was completed, I wore it everywhere–to class, out to eat with friends–he truly went everywhere with me. He passed away suddenly when I was at university and I held onto the necklace tightly when he passed. This necklace quickly became my most treasured item and a comfort to me along my grief journey, especially shortly after he passed.
Since Max’s passing, I have lost other pets and have created hair keepsakes to celebrate their lives. However, creating the pieces after a pet had passed was a completely different experience. Now that I create keepsakes for others, the majority of my clients order a piece after their pet passes away – many dealing with overwhelming heartache throughout the process. As an artist who creates to provide comfort, I want to share some insight into ordering before or after they pass away.
Ordering before they pass away
Celebration of life, not a memorial of the death
There is something extra special about having your pet or loved one’s hair preserved from a time when they were physically there with you. You will always make memories with them, but imagine making memories with them while wearing/carrying your keepsake. When the time comes that your beloved is no longer with you, you can look at your keepsake and not only remember them as a companion but the memories you shared.
Preparedness helps ease the pain
Prepared is defined as ‘ready to deal with’ – although you may never feel prepared for death or the emotions that come with it. Being prepared doesn’t mean that you don’t care, love them, or aren’t grieving enough. Being prepared helps ease the task. While death is not an easy task to deal with, think about what you need most when you are grieving. Comfort. Having a hair keepsake created before they pass provides you with a tangible piece of comfort that is there with you through your grief journey at the moment you need it the most.
Builds a sense of spirituality
Each hair keepsake is created for a reason. Many are created to provide a connection, closeness, and comfort. With a connection to your pet or loved one, you gain a sense of spirituality. This spirituality can help you deal with the fear of separation and death itself.
Death is still a conversation that not many people are having, but the more we talk about it the more we reduce the stigma surrounding the topic. This might not be a conversation that you want to have when you are out making memories with your beloved. Why would you want to think about life without them? Having these conversations and keepsakes before allows you to live life with more purpose and intent. Have the hard conversations now helps avoid the additional struggle after.
Ordering after they pass away
Whether you decide to collect the hair and/or ash sample(s) yourself or not, this can be an emotional process to deal with following their passing. If you do not feel like you can do this yourself, reach out and ask for help. Many places already do this but if not, you can ask your vet clinic and mortuary to collect a small hair sample when your beloved is with them. You can also ask the crematorium to set aside a small sample of cremains needed for a keepsake.
Grief is overwhelming
Grief produces deep emotions that can leave you struggling with day-to-day tasks. Figuring out a way to manage your grief and take care of yourself should be your top priority. You may desire to feel comfort as you work on learning to live with grief but not be able to physically, mentally, or emotionally, be able to take the steps to put a plan into action. Reach out to someone you trust to help you take the necessary steps to have your custom keepsake created.
Preserve both hair and ashes
There are many designs for hair keepsakes alongside cremation keepsakes that preserve both the hair and ashes. The design for your perfect keepsake is entirely up to you. If you choose to have a keepsake created after your beloved has passed, ashes are a beautiful addition to any piece. You may also want to preserve other items (but not limited to): hair, ashes, feathers, whiskers, teeth, nail clippings, material (from collar/blanket/toy). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on items you would like to preserve.
More time than you expected without them
When your pet or loved one passes away and you decide to have a keepsake created, there is time involved that you may not have considered. The entire process can take up to 2 months between shipping and creation. To ease the longing for your keepsake to be completed, you will receive weekly photo updates throughout the process. I do this so that you can follow along as your beloved’s sample is transformed into a keepsake as well as to help you develop a connection with the piece from the earliest stages to when you receive it in the mail.
I hope that this has provided you some insight into having a hair keepsake created. Ultimately, your keepsake will provide you with comfort, it is your choice when you want that comfort. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be honored to start this journey with you.
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