Every now and then, I like to remind myself why I do what I do. I think as business people, and for me especially as a pet loss professional, I need to have those reinforcements that say “it’s not just another pet.” Not that I ever forget and become complacent about what I do, but it’s always nice to remember that we as death care professionals touch other people’s lives deeply and forever. I always want to make sure that the impression that I leave is one that’s positive and forever remembered warmly.

There are a few families that will always be near and dear to me. Even though I’ve not seen them since this fateful event when they needed me at one of their darkest hours, I know that if I ever did see them again that we would pick right up from where we left off and talk like we were old friends with a bit of time under our belts. A few more wrinkles, a few more gray hairs, a few more life event’s that have further shaped who we have become, but, yes, we would pick up from where we left off.

One of those families that I remember so fondly when I need that heartfelt reminder of why I do what I do is Squirty’s family. His parents are Shawn and Steven Cardwell. I want to share with you their words, their story, their reminder to me to be the best pet loss professional that I can ever be. Because for them, he WAS their life.


I have been writing this letter for days now. I have been unable to get very far with this letter because I am still grieving for my little boy, Squirty. But I need to tell you how much I appreciate you and your business. My wife is writing a similar note, using her own words, so don’t be confused if I switch between the pronouns “I” and “we.”

I have told dozens of people about you and your business and I usually start off with saying, “There is a special place in heaven for Coleen …” What I mean by that statement is the warmth in your heart, your sincere desire to help, your capacity for understanding the pain people are going through, and the fact that you have chosen a business of helping people and pets deal with the afterlife. That choice of business cannot be easy and I am sure you have tough days. Tough days like seeing a 250 pound, giant, bald man break down and cry over a scruffy little dog.
You have helped us (more than you will ever know) through these dark days. For example, you had never met me; I was taken aback when you instantly gave me a hug. You whispered to me that you were sorry about Squirty as if we had been friends for years. That quality in a person is rare, and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you.

Right now my emotions are rather scrambled with Squirty’s long illness and eventual death. However, there are two distinct parts of my personality that are surfacing throughout this whole process. First, the grieving parent. Squirty was a little “person” that showed me the value and the innocence of unconditional love. Squirty taught me a lot of things, but most of all he taught me how to take the time to enjoy the simple things in life. For example, a spot of sunshine, a fresh scent in the air, mud puddles, warm blankets, and lounging around the house on rainy days! Most of all, Squirty taught me the value of showing someone how much you appreciate their kindness.

The other part of my brain is thinking about your business. How owning and running the business must be tough. Also, how the type of business is needed and how it is imperative that your business prospers. I was trying to think how I could show my gratitude for your business, and after dozens of bad ideas, the only good idea finally came to me. I would like to offer any of your potential customers to contact me. I mean day or night, work or on vacation, anytime or anywhere. I would gladly speak with them about my experience with you and your business. I will tell them that if I had to do it all over again, I would have contacted you sooner! The sincere sharing of your experience, those of your other customers, and the advice you have given us have helped us immensely. Every suggestion you have made was wise and thoughtful. Your suggestions were offered to me humbly and always with the caveat that you will do whatever I truly want with Squirt’s arrangements and that you are there to help me.

The two parts of my personality, the “parent” and the “business person” were both very impressed with you and your business.

I have never before written a thank you note to the owner of a business. And since you are more to us than just a business owner, I guess that trend continues. However, I would just like to say, from the bottom of my grieving heart, thank you for all your kindness and help.

Steven N. Cardwell.

P.S.: Specific things we are thankful for:

• You being so sweet when you received the 2:30 a.m. phone call when Squirt passed. I honestly thought I was calling your service!

• Letting us see him on a Sunday, and when you were so busy. We never even thought to ask if you were going to be open that day.

• The time needed to spend with him before cremation. You had suggested it; I never thought I would want it, now it is the single most important part in my grieving. Thank you again!

• All the stories you shared with us. You are so busy (because you are helping so many people) so we really appreciate the time.

Yes, a great reminder that I always need to be on top of my game because people like Steven, Shawn and mostly Squirty, it’s what they deserve. FBA


Coleen-Ellis-Headshot-Photo-197x300Coleen Ellis is the Founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center. If you’d like more information regarding identifying and leveraging both individual and team talents and strengths, please contact [email protected]  or you may call 317.966.0096. You may also visit her website at www.TwoHeartsPetLossCenter.com.