Many of our families are comprised of humans and non-humans. Mariann’s and my family is completed by our perfect pit bull, Rose — who keeps things in line for us. And since so many of us have had the sad experience of losing our companion animals — our family members — we know that although there is so much unconditional love that goes along with co-habitating with these little critters, there is also so much pain that comes with their loss.
If this resonates with you, you’ll probably love what animal chaplain (yup!) Donna Yuritic is doing. Yuritic runs Compassion for Creatures, a Ministry for Animals and their human families. Her services include prayer requests, funerals (formal or informal), and special children’s informal funerals (she also is the author of Animal Angels: Paws to Remember, which focuses on how to talk to children about the loss of a family member companion animal). In addition to her services, Yuritic’s website is full of information on coping, grief, and other helpful info for people affected by the loss of an animal. And if you’re not Christian, fear not! (There’s a sentence that could be taken a whole lot of different ways.) According to Yuritic, her services can be “Christian, Non- Christian, Traditional or Non -Traditional.”
It would be nice to see more people in the clergy make people’s relationships with animals part of the pastoral care that they provide as part of their ministry. From the counseling and provision of services related to the death of animals, to helping people find their moral compass when it comes to their relationship with animals in general, this could, and should, be an important part of every ministry.