Karen Martin, Founder of Scattering Ashes and My Pets Ashes
Helping people to celebrate the lives of their loved ones
I was tidying the garden when I found her body… Six months prior, neighbours witnessed our cat April being struck by a car. We’d carried out a desperate search for her at the time, but there were no further sightings. As a family, we missed her dreadfully; it was a struggle to accept she was gone. Finding her remains in our own back yard broke my heart. She had come home to us, but we hadn’t spotted her. The guilt was crushing, and grief hit me like a train. I couldn’t even tell the kids, which sounds ridiculous, given I spoke to grieving people every day!
Together with my husband Richard, I’d founded Scattering Ashes in 2010. Our intention was to provide the internet’s most comprehensive source of information and products related to human and pet cremation ashes – yet going through the grieving process myself four years later, I felt utterly bereft. The love that pets give is beautiful and unconditional; April had left a massive hole behind.
Slowly, I realised: ‘It’s okay to feel this bad’ and that I wasn’t the only one… people don’t just suddenly ‘snap out of it’. We decided to create a separate pet bereavement website, My Pets Ashes, with a very different feel and tone. It helps to normalise those feelings because it’s never ‘just a dog or cat’. We get thousands of hits each month on our award-winning advice pages, and our email programme helps people work through the 12 stages of grief – from nurturing yourself by eating well, exercising and taking daily fresh air to dealing with bereavement-related anxiety.
Richard and I have also poured our hearts into curating a beautiful collection of products for the scattering, burial or keeping of cremation ashes, which help people to celebrate the life of their relative or pet in a personal, heartfelt way. From memorial jewellery and glass to urns, sundials, sculptures and garden planters, many are handmade with love locally in Devon.
I still see April chasing butterflies in her favourite corner of our garden… I finally feel ready to bury her ashes there in a biodegradable urn; she can help grow the apple tree planted in her memory.