Bring Stella Home for Christmas

On November 20th of 2019, our family experienced the sudden, unexpected loss of a beloved lifelong companion, friend, pet, and family member. 

Stella was a very quiet, gentle, and loving cat, who was from a family that includes two autistic children. She was 15 years old, just a few months shy of turning 16, and was part of the family before these two children were ever born. They were both welcomed to the family by a very special cat, and both formed very intense bonds with her seemingly right from Day 1. As they grew, so did their affection for Stella, and as the children grew, and were both diagnosed as being severely autistic, the intensity of their bonds became more understandable and that much more special to the people who knew them.

Stella was very healthy for a cat much younger than her age, and we hoped for a few more years with her.  She developed a bit of a bug, toward the end of summer, and gave us quite a scare for a little while.  Even as it became apparent that we were probably entering her final year, it seemed as though she might be able to go for at least a few more months.  Surely past her Sweet 16 on the 21st of March, 2020. She visited the vet for some medicine for her cough, and pain medication for her arthritis. She seemed to perk up for a little while, much to the relief of her family. Unfortunately, it was only a brief reprieve. In November, her health began to rapidly decline again, but this time did not respond to her family's efforts to help her. 

As her quality of life began to quickly diminish, her mom realized that she had to make the heartbreaking decision to help Stella pass on as peacefully as possible, far sooner than anyone expected. Quite a while before this, Mom had started to gently introduce the inevitable fact that Stella was entering the last stage of her life and could not be expected to live as long as the younger animals in the family, although she seemed healthy enough to enjoy at least a few more years. 

Having been educated as much as possible, the children still living at home were given the choice of whether or not they wanted to be present during Stella's passing. The second oldest child, M., elected to remain in the waiting area where he could distract himself, but D. (the youngest, at 8 years old) opted to remain with Mom and Stella, stepping out of the room only for the moments of Stella's actual death, and returning immediately afterward. 

Upon arriving at the animal hospital, the family was given as much time as needed to kiss and cuddle with Stella, and to say goodbye, only being apart for the few minutes needed to place an IV port in a front leg. She remained snuggled in Mom's arms, and passed away as peacefully and gently as anyone might hope for. Upon returning to the room, D. joined Mom in sharing a final goodbye, before tearfully relinquishing her to a staff member's careful embrace. 

Unfortunately, while the process of cremation and the return of her ashes was quite well-understood by the boys, Mom had paid far more than ever anticipated in trying to give Stella as much time as possible. After paying for Stella's euthanization, there was no financial means left to pay the required cost for cremation. The hospital staff was very understanding, and kindly agreed to hold Stella for the time it took for the family to pay for the cremation. With the Christmas holidays right on the heels of this loss, Mom soon realized that she had no idea of how or when she could ever afford it. 

Autistic grief is generally different from the grief experienced by those not on the autism spectrum. In D's case, grief has turned out to be incredibly strong and intense. As is common for autistic individuals, he needs as much visual and tangible evidence as possible in order to process his grief. He had expected that he would be able to see and hold her ashes, as with the ashes of other beloved human and feline family members, and to be able to hold and touch a clay impression of her paw print, but this has not been the case so far. 

As a result, D's grief has been unrelenting and intense. He cries himself to sleep in his mother's arms every night, and wakes up, weeping, during the night, finding his way to curl up by Stella's old spot near the foot of the bed. He will not discuss anything to do with Christmas; not even talk of Santa Claus and presents and family dinners can deter him from mourning the loss of his dearly loved best friend, and the fact that he still has nothing visual or tangible to help him achieve any closure. He refuses to visit Santa Claus, because all he wants is to have Stella back in any form, and he knows that Santa can't really do that. M. is grieving in his own way, keeping to himself and using artistic outlets until he can see that Stella is finally home again.

This is where Mom has finally decided to create a fundraiser,  to try to get Stella home in time for a little boy to resolve some of his grief. Just enough to experience and enjoy the holiday season as much as all children deserve to. 

With this fundraiser, it is hoped that we can raise $500.00. The cost of cremation, not including any urn or paw print impressions or other memorial service, is $286.00. An urn will have to be purchased, as well as the paw prints for the children to hold on to. A small memorial service will be held upon receiving Stella's ashes, and it is hoped that all of this will help these exceptional children to achieve enough closure to gradually move on. Should any funds remain, they will be applied to veterinary care for the remaining family pets. Should you choose to make a donation, please know that your generosity and kindness will never be forgotten. If you choose to send us your name and address when you make a donation, you will receive a thank you in the form of a card along with Stella's photo and paw print, as soon as the prints are delivered with the ashes and the rest of the order.


  • Brad Walker 
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
  • Kai Shuart 
    • $10 
    • 8 mos
  • Shawn Orr 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
  • Summer Walker 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
  • Jaime Mcgill 
    • $10 
    • 8 mos
See all


Jackqueline Keating 
Kingston, ON
  • #1 fundraising platform

    People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more