Gaelynn Beswick

Each of our lives is a tapestry made up of many threads. Multi-coloured, they are the stories we weave and that weave us.

These are some of my threads. They answer the question people often ask me: “How did I come to have a pet cremation service?”

As a child I had numerous pets, including ailing and injured birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife that I endeavored to save. When my animals inevitably died, I’d bury them in my pet cemetery beneath the macrocarpa hedge at the back of the garden. Each pet had a little named cross and I’d decorate their “sacred place,” with coloured stones, shells and flowers. I was usually the only one at the ceremony – my younger sisters being reluctant mourners.

There would be tears and a wondering, “where are they now?’ The smell of macrocarpa still brings the remembrance of that grief.

Grief re-visited me as a young mother. At 22 my first child, Melissa, died at 4 months of age from congenital heart defects. It was an abyss that took a long time to climb out of. Writing was my solace –a way of purging the turmoil of feelings that I feared would send me to madness or suicide.

Though others grieved around me, mostly it wasn’t talked about, for those who loved me didn’t want to add to my pain. I had little understanding back then of emotions or an “inner life” and the silence and aloneness I found myself in was at times unbearable.

The other significant threads in my tapestry are training then working as a counsellor, followed by the establishment and running of boarding kennels. Melissa’s life – and death –  is the thread that stands out the most brightly. It’s the blue of sorrow, yet intertwined are jewels of glistening yellow. This most precious thread reminds me that out of darkness comes light; out of pain comes joy and that death and sorrow can be the backdrop that shines the light on how to truly live. The breaking of our hearts can also be the opening.

Our animals are treasures. They grace out lives and families with their unconditional love, passion, forgiveness and humour. I often wonder how different we might be – life could be – if we lived their values.

Gaelynn Beswick

Michael Meehan


Michael graduated from the University of Queensland in 1991 and spent 10 years in companion animal veterinary practices in Australia and then in United Kingdom before returning to the University of Queensland in 2001 to complete an Honour’s degree in Psychology. His 2004 Honour’s thesis was about exploring and better understanding the human-animal bond using human-relationship theories.

Educator & Counsellor

In 2005 Michael was employed as a casual academic and helped develop UQ’s School of Veterinary Science curriculum teaching veterinary students non-technical veterinary competencies and topics such as the human-animal bond, grief and euthanasia, communication skills and ethics and morality. From 2006 until 2011 Michael completed a PhD about veterinary communication. In 2011 he travelled to Canada and up until the end of 2014 he was employed as a full time academic at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph teaching veterinary students in the “Art of Veterinary Medicine” program. During this time, he was the head co-ordinator of the OVC Pet Loss Support Hotline. He trained veterinary students in fundamental counselling skills and how to manage calls to the hotline. Michael returned down under and across the ditch in 2015 to continue working with veterinary educators and organisations in helping veterinarians and students to improve their communication skills. He also returned to companion animal veterinary practice where he is able to also provide counselling to clients.