A few days ago, Chansik and I very suddenly lost our youngest cat, 찬성 (Chansung) to FIP. He was only 10 months old. We miss him so much and life without him has been tough.
I wanted to write a blog about what the process and options are like when you have a pet die in Korea.
Since Chansik is a vet we were able to make all the decisions related to Chansung’s health care and, ultimately, the decision to end his suffering by euthanasia. If your animal passes away at the vet clinic (동물병원) the staff can help you in freezing the body there or at home until the time of burial or cremation. After Chansung’s death, we took his body home to clean him up and then keep in the freezer.
We made an appointment with an animal funeral home called AngelStone. The day prior to our appointment we were instructed to remove Chansung’s body from the freezer to thaw. The next day we cleaned him again and Chansik sewed his eyes shut. I had written about Chansung on social media but Chansik wrote a letter for him that we had cremated along with Chansung’s body. We also included one of his toys.
We wrapped up Chansung’s body, placed him in a large gift bag and took him to the clinic (which is a 5-minute walk from our house) where one of the employees from AngelStone met us. They had brought a box to place him in but we preferred to keep with us in the bag. The employee drove us almost 2 hours out to the AngelStone facility. When we arrived, an
employee with a cart decorated with flowers met us with a deep bow. We put Chansung on the cart and we were taken to a waiting area.
AngelStone has a lot of options for cremation. You can dress your animal in the traditional white clothes before their cremation. After cremation, you can have the ashes turned into beautiful stones which can be displayed different ways or put into jewelry.
After filling out some simple paperwork we had to wait for about 30 minutes during which we took Chansung outside since the weather was nice and the sun was shining. We sang a little song I had made up and had sung to Chansung almost everyday that goes, ‘kitten in the sunlight, kitten in the sun..’. We picked a flower and put it in his paws.
When it was our turn we took Chansung (on the flowery cart) into one of these viewing rooms. We were told to take our time saying goodbye and when we were ready they would take him in for cremation. We lit some incense and gave Chansung’s sleek and black fur some last pets. When we told them we were finished the employee came in to get him and gave a deep bow before they left. We then could watch as they very respectfully performed the cremation. They lay Chansung’s body on a sort of table which was then rolled into the large, metal chamber. We waited for about 20 minutes while the cremation took place. During that time we looked at photos and videos of Chansung and talked about our favorite memories with him.
When the cremation was finished the remains, which is pretty much just bones, were gathered and placed on a silver and gold tray. The tray was brought up to the window and shown to us and the employee gave deep bows of respect. The bones were carefully put in a machine hat turned them into powder and then even more carefully placed in an urn.
We then returned to the waiting room where an employee tied up the urn in a white cloth and put it in a pretty bag. We didn’t do any of the fancy options so our total bill was 200,000won or about 200 USD. Then we were driven to a bus stop where we could board a bus to return home.
I would definitely recommend AngelStone. The employees were so careful, kind and respectful. The treated every bit of the process as if it was their own pet. If you have any questions about the process please email us. We are happy to help foreigners living in Korea who are navigating any veterinary issues, including those for end-of-life.