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A Butterfly Bush

 

The other day, when I was looking through pet blogs, as I always do, I came across a wonderful idea for how to honor Miss Butterfly: plant something beautiful with her ashes. Mom loved the idea, because she’s a gardener, and she immediately envisioned a pink Butterfly Bush as the appropriate tribute, and found the perfect spot for it, with enough sun, and drainage, and space to grow.

pix from eos 051

My Butterfly

I had to research Butterfly Bushes, of course, and at first I was overwhelmed with articles about the negatives: how Butterfly Bushes are non-native plants, and invasive, and kill off native plants, and kill off insects, and on and on. But I persisted in my reading and found other views, and Mom was adamant that the positives outweigh the negatives.

But I’m still reluctant. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to say goodbye to Butterfly, or when. I don’t want to scatter her ashes too soon, because then I could never get them back. As if I still have her with me, because I still have her ashes. And scattering Miss Butterfly’s ashes here means that she can’t go with me if I ever choose to leave. And if the Butterfly Bush doesn’t survive well, then I won’t have the chance to replant her ashes somewhere else.

I didn’t feel this way when Dina, my black lab mix, died, at sixteen years and two months old. I’d had her for her whole life, minus the first eight weeks, and I saw her through every complicated stage of her development. I had Butterfly for less than five years, and it just wasn’t enough, even though she herself was ready to go.

I think the Butterfly Bush may be the right answer for us, because Miss B loved the backyard here. She loved running up the hill, through mounds of rotting leaves, and then racing back to our front door with her tongue hanging out and her eyes shining. This was her safe place. And she knew it from the first day, when two white butterflies greeted her with their fluttering wings.

butterflies

I know that I need to have some kind of marker, and ceremony, to say goodbye to Miss B. I know I need to make peace with the loss of my girl. But I still don’t want to say goodbye.

Butterfly's bush

The Butterfly Bush resting at home

 

If you want to see the post that inspired me:

https://doodlemum.com/2018/04/17/home-coming/

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

93 responses »

  1. I still have my dogs and cats ashes….I’m not ready to do something with them. And Muffin has been gone since 2008. But I am just not ready…..

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  2. We have a collection of ashes of our passed dogs and cats. I can’t bring myself to scatter the ashes as we have moved houses a lot in our married life. I still think of two dogs we buried in different places. They never had pet cremation back then so we had no alternative. You are facing a difficult decision in this regard. I sympathise with you.

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  3. Oh, Rachel, I hear you! I have been doing some thinking along the lines of memorials too, because my beloved Gabi is about 20 years old. (We don’t know exactly, because she was a rescue – found digging in the garbage on the Strip in Las Vegas.) I fear I won’t have her a whole lot longer.

    I love the idea of the butterfly bush, but I get your fears about moving away. That said, I love butterfly bushes.

    Is there a favorite park or garden where you could put the ashes? That way they could nurture the plants but you could always be free to visit.

    I wish you comfort. I know it seems far away right now.

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  4. You could spread Butterfly’s ashes with the planting of the bush and keep a small amount of her ashes with you . I found this Butterfly keepsake ashes pendent and there are many others. This ay you can keep a part of her with you and add them to Butterfly bush ashes when you are ready. Of couse you can wear it or don’t have to wear it but it could be displayed in a place of your choosing .https://www.etsy.com/listing/245539556/blue-cameo-look-butterfly-cremation-urn

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  5. wishing you healing and peace…it is so so hard to say goodbye to our beloved friends.

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  6. I know how hard it is to say goodbye. I hope you find peace, and your broken heart mends.

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  7. those we love stay with us… in unexpected ways… even when they’re gone. may you find consolation in the continuity of life.

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  8. A butterfly bush sounds like a beautiful tribute to your sweet Butterfly. But, your right, it would be sad if the bush died or if you moved. Is the spot you have chosen one that Butterfly would love and find peaceful? Would you be comfortable leaving her there if you did move?
    There is a lot to consider. Take your time, think it through and trust your heart. You will know when the time is right to scatter her ashes.

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  9. We could have done a Kyla Kactus.

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  10. I love the butterfly bush idea! I recently lost one of my boys. I have his ashes in an urn in my hutch minus just a tiny bit that were sealed into a necklace – I can have him with me all the time.

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  11. I love reading your words, Rachel. Time helps us let go. It has helped me. I left my Mommy’s ashes with her beloved kitty Munson’s in a memorial garden before I moved 200 miles away. But the release of emotions I felt at the little personal ceremony I had that day helped me let go of the knife in my heart. She did not want me to cry for her forever. It pained her to think of me that way before she died. Butterfly and my Izzy would feel the same for us, she would want you to feel the release of that knot of grief. But you, and I, will never, ever let go of that shining, gleaming love that their presence brought to our lives. We honor their love by letting go of the pain…little by little at first, until we can at last be free of it, and only remember the joy.

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  12. Sometimes, the hardest thing is letting go. Ask yourself, would Butterfly enjoy this bush? Regardless of what else happens, that may be all that brings peace for you.

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  13. I confess to not knowing much about gardening but your idea is beautiful. Could you not have the butterfly Bush in a pot. You can then Bury rather than scatter the ashes and if in the future you were to move you could take the pot with you?

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  14. I don’t really think moving away in the future is an issue. Wherever the ashes are, your beloved pet will go with you, in your heart.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  15. I’ve heard about pieces of jewellery being made from our loved one’s ashes, but have no idea of cost.
    A butterfly bush sounds a wonderful idea. We’ve planted a buddliah bush at the bottom of the garden to attract the butterflies and bees. Is this the same plant you were thinking of?
    Our pets are always with us one way or another. Thinking of you Rachel. It’s 13 years since we lost Barney, and even though Maggie is well established in our hearts, it still leaves an ache.

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  16. Thanks for sharing. I think the butterfly bush is a great idea. And, thanks for sharing doodlemum.

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  17. This is a lovely way of remembering your little Butterfly. I have planted a shrub in remembrance of each of my dogs. Perhaps you could plant the bush, but not the ashes, as you are still uncertain about that?

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  18. I have a butterfly bush (buddleia) in my garden and I love it. As far as I’m aware, it hasn’t killed off any other plants or insects, and it really does attract butterflies. They are so tame, as well – if I sit still next to the bush, they’ll quite happily come and sit on me! I think it would be a wonderful way to remember your Butterfly.

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  19. Rachel, why not plant a native species that attracts butterflies? There are many and a native bush would be more likely to survive than an exotic. Contact your local extension office for recommendations for plants that grow in your climate. Or a local native plant society or butterfly organization can help. The Butterflies will love you.

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  20. Why don’t you keep some of Butterfly’s ashes and scatter the rest?

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  21. I think it’s a good idea. I’ve planted butterfly bushes on Cape Cod successfully. In this day and age, everything is an invasive species… We just moved and had to leave 2 of our cats who were buried in the back yard. They are still with us in our hearts, though. We still have Jiffy Pop’s ashes and have not done anything with them yet. It’s so hard to let go. I totally empathize with your grief and am impressed with how clear you are about it. You are doing all the right things. It’s just hard. – Harry

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  22. It can be difficult to know how to honor a loved one — whether of the two-legged or four-legged variety. My mother is buried in the Bronx, where she lived the greater part of her life after having emigrated to the US from Hungary. We though live several states away, so cannot easily visit her grave. We lost two of the family dogs shortly after Mom died. The dogs (both of which she loved) are buried in our backyard. But I like to think they followed her to heaven. ❤

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  23. No doubt someone has mentioned this idea, but I haven’t read all your comments (yet) so here’s my two cents: Why not keep a small bag of Butterfly’s ashes aside? You don’t have to put all of her into the bush, and that way you always have a bit of Butterfly with you. It’s obvious you loved her deeply. A butterfly bush sounds perfect as a way to honor your little girl. I hope you’ll share photos when it blooms one day.

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  24. Sounds like a great idea to plant the Butterfly bush in a large pot in case you move. I’ve just lost my pet and the grieve is overwhelming. I’ve heard that ashes can be pressed into a small diamond, that way you could carry her with you always. Not that expensive either.

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  25. What a beautiful tribute to Butterfly

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  26. I don’t think I’ve ever really said “goodbye” to a loved one whether two or four-legged or finned for that matter. It’s always “see ya later” because, according to my rules, that’s the way it’s going to be. So maybe Butterfly’s resting spot is just that, a place for a short rest before she’s with you again. The bush is a nice idea.

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  27. Butterfly lives in my mind even though I never met here in person. Through your writing about her antics, her illness and her death, I felt connected to her. In a similar but much more profound way she lives in you too. Best wishes for whatever you do with the tangible remains, but the intangible can never be lost.

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  28. Never fear…Miss Butterfly will ALWAYS occupy a place in your heart. 💖

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  29. Do only what you want and what you’re most comfortable with. Don’t let anyone pressure you. We all grieve in our own way. It seems as though you want to keep her ashes longer. You’ll know when the time is right.

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  30. I just lost my sweet Princess in early April, and just this week we planted a Dogwood tree over her grave. It is so, so hard, I certainly know how you feel. That said, I think a butterfly bush would be lovely, especially with her name, but also I had one at my old house and it was a favorite. The beauty of the blooms and the butterflies it brings are a win, win. All the best to you in your decision.

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  31. I know what you mean about not wanting to leave Butterfly behind should you move in the future. My original cats, O.B. Brat and Joby Cat died when I was married and living in California in a home we owned. I knew that some day I would be moving back to NY so I did not bury them in the backyard. I actually made two trips back to NY so I could have them buried in the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. I now have two other cats buried there,Fremont and Niles, nd my dog, Marcos. I have space in Marcos’s grave for two more animals Last year when Marble died, he was cremated so his cremains will be buried in the coffin with either Marcel or Marceau whoever passes away first – not for a long long time, I hope.

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  32. I like the butterfly bush idea, too – also the idea of figuring out a way to keep a small portion for yourself. The Red Man’s ashes have been in a small wooden urn next to my bedside since I retrieved them. I still pat them and talk to them regularly after two years.
    Pretty knows to bury them in our plot next to mine in the little cemetery in Texas.
    You never really say goodbye.

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  33. madaboutgreys

    This is such a hard decision. Your closing paragraph captures it perfectly. I hope you find the right way to make your peace with her loss.

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  34. I decided when I lost Mosby and picked out his urn I would keep his ashes and those of the rest of my furry family. There will come a time when someone will be scattering my ashes and they will all go with me then. You could go ahead and plant the bush and get it established and later add the ashes if and when you feel ready. And I have seen the little diamonds and jewelry made from the ashes that have been suggested and thet are quite nice. I lost my Simba shortly after you lost Butterfly and I am still finding myself looking for her. Hugs and prayers.

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  35. I think that the butterfly bush is a lovely idea. I have lots of natives in my yard as well, but the butterfly bush has been welcome addition. It doesn’t spread itself beyond where you choose to prune it, so no need to fear it will become invasive. The butterflies flock to it, and for good measure I planted some milkweed and native honeysuckle nearby, which balances things out nicely. What’s ridiculous is that I still have my Olaf’s ashes in my sock drawer even though he’s been gone since 2010. Maybe I should let go, too.

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  36. So don’t say, “Goodbye,” Rachel. Say, “See you later.” An option is to divide her ashes and plant some of them with the Buttlerfly Bush. That will leave some to keep, and some to plant at the next place you live. You will know the right thing to do when you feel at peace with your decision. It may just be to keep them with you. You’re the only one who can make that decision. Butterfly will keep loving from wherever she is no matter what you decide, and your decision will honor her.

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  37. What a GREAT thing to do for Butterfly. And for you. I hope she meets Mohawk, LadyBug and Zelda on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

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  38. This is a beautiful idea!

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  39. This is a wonderful tribute to Miss Butterfly. I’m having a necklace made from some of Max’s ashes – a blown glass bead – that will always be next to my heart. I can’t scatter his ashes, I feel the same way as you – as long as they’re here, so is he. (If you would like the website for the jewelry, I’ll be happy to share it.)

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  40. You can do it. I myself would like to be planted with something as a legacy that lives on.

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  41. We just lost our Bentley on April 6, I’m still having trouble dealing with it and and it seems that every day it gets harder rather than easier. The place that did Bentley’s ashes, took his paw print and made a plaster cast of it before the cremation and they also cut some of his beautiful white hair which they gave to me. I have the ashes in a box. They also gave us a little heart with seeds on it to plant in his honor, so I made a little garden in the back, with a statue of a little Schnauzer and planted the seeds, they’re growing now in Bentley’s garden.. Rachel, a butterfly bush in Butterfly’s honor is perfect. XO

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    • Thank you. We got a paw print also, but the one thing I can’t let go of is her diabetes supplies. I still have them on a shelf in the living room, as if she could be back at any moment and she’ll need them.

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      • I had an awful time giving away Max’s food – we still have bags of treats in the kitchen. His toys litter the family room, and I sometimes sleep with his big stuffed Zebra (ZEEBAH!) I bought a huge bag of food about 2 weeks before he passed – like if there was food, he would have to be here to eat it. It’s so hard!

  42. Yes the butterfly bush is beautiful. There are lots of great choices for butterflies that are appropriate for the east coast. You can consider planting for the caterpillars too!

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  43. I have decided to keep Buddy’s ashes. We are having a special art piece made that will contain them and hang on our wall above our bed. We came up with the idea on a recent trip to Washington DC as we visited an artist’s gallery to acquire some of her art. She had the perfect vessel that was actually a dimensional wall hanging. We commissioned her to make one to hold Buddy’s ashes (the ones she had did not have an opening to put something inside). She is working on it now and I feel so much more at peace.

    You will know when you are sure for yourself that you have found the right thing. My thoughts are with you!

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  44. Thank you Rachel for this beautiful post and now I also have an idea 😊

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  45. I know it’s hard, but it will get easier. Humans grieve differently. I still think about all my pets I’ve lost going back 19 years. Miss Butterfly is in your heart to never be forgotten.

    Reply
  46. Such a touching tribute! I had butterfly bushes in Sedona, Arizona and they really do attract butterflies. Have a little granite marker engraved and maybe a bird bath? Our pet companions sure are special gifts to us, but oh the time is just so short!

    Reply

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