Scattering Violets

An exploration of funerary traditions and innovations, care of the dead, and pagan perspectives on death

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At a Crossroads: Looking Backward and Forward Along the Journey

It’s been a little while since I last posted here. I’ve been forging ahead on this death care path I’ve committed myself to, while also planning my wedding, spending time with family, and dealing with post-Covid chronic illness. All that is to say, I’ve been juggling a lot, and sometimes I drop a ball here and there (or several) in order to stay afloat.


But I’m cresting a new hill, so to speak. In a few weeks, I’ll leave the pet funeral home where I’ve worked for the past year and a half, and transfer to the human side of the company where I’ll begin my mortuary apprenticeship. I’ve also started classes for a degree in funeral service, with the goal of completing my apprenticeship and degree around the same time so that I can take the funeral license exam upon completion and become a full-fledged funeral director. Ultimately, I want to manage and operate an all-green funeral home, where I can offer alkaline hydrolysis cremation and natural burial services on a conservation- and restoration-focused burial ground. This is my great dream and hopeful legacy: serving both the dying, dead, and grieving as well as the landscape that I love deep in my soul.


Thus far in my journey, I’ve discovered a few things about myself. I have a knack for putting people at ease during moments of grief, helping them feel safe and able to communicate their needs, and I enjoy being able to do so. I am responsible and reliable. I hold myself accountable, but sometimes I can be too hard on myself. I feel that every task I do – from driving to pick up pets or deliver cremated remains, to cremation, to cleaning the office and crematory – is meaningful service to the dead, the grieving, and the spirits of my workplace and career. I am learning to accept my limitations and failures without self-loathing or shame. I’m proud, headstrong, and driven. I set goals for myself and see to their attainment. While I experience self-doubt, I don’t let it stop me from doing what I feel I ought to do. I can be extremely impatient when I’m stressed. I have an active, purposeful, pragmatic work ethic, and I expect others to be as committed to their work as I am to mine. I have no tolerance for laziness or self-centeredness; it drives me up the wall, especially because my disability makes it challenging to compensate for others’ lack of commitment. I believe that every role is important and everyone must work together for the benefit of the whole.


There’s iron in my soul, and while it can be vulnerable to rust, I’m learning that making time and space to meet my (sometimes self-ignored) needs polishes it right up. I’ve been able to exercise dimensions of myself that had lain dormant for decades, and I am proud of my passion for what I do, my resilience, my tenacity, and my faith. All in all, I have seen myself – my strengths and weaknesses – more clearly in the past couple of years than I ever have. Most importantly, I’m continuing to learn and grow into the person I most want to be, doing the things that give my life deep meaning, even when things aren’t perfect.


My first steps on this journey – getting my foot in the door at the pet funeral home, becoming cremationist – are reaching their end, and I’m moving forward onto the next stage. This one will be more challenging in a lot of respects, and I’m ready for it.


Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

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The Cunning Wife is an animist, writer, diviner, crafter, witch, and spirit worker and traveler. Her work has been published in a number of online and print magazines, including Witches & Pagans and Hagstone Publishing's Stone, Root, and Bone ezine. She gets excited about scholarly essays and books on folklore, magical tales, and ancient spiritual practices, and is passionate about sharing that information. She is also an avid crafter of magical and mundane items. She believes that there is magic in the mundane, just waiting to be remembered.  


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