Our companion animals play a special role in our lives. They are not just pets, they are friends, our confidants and cherished members of the family. When you farewell your beloved dog or cat, you’ll need to be prepared for the depth of feelings you may experience. We share 5 ways to commemorate your pet to help you cope with pet loss and grief.
Grieving the death of a pet is a no different or less than any other grief. It’s deep and devastating. It’s a different experience for each person, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it.
Pet loss 5 ways to commemorate your pet
- Write a Gratitude List
This is the opposite of a bucket list: write down at least 10 things that your pet did that made you laugh, or gave you pause for thought. It can be as simple as the time the puppy chewed the mudflaps off the car, finding the lost toy that resulted in a hilarious game, accidentally running of the jetty with the children, or as meaningful as the cat that told you when your mother was passing. This can even be framed.
- Make a Memory
This might be the ID tag made into a necklace or tattoo or a keepsake made from the pet’s fur, a decorative cast of the paws or noseprint, or a plant planted into the pet’s bowl.
- Create a Memorial
This might be a table with keepsakes and a picture, or a commemorative wall of “pets we have loved and lost” or a small space in the garden with a plant and bowl turned into a birdbath. (Note in Australia there may be restrictions on actually burying pets in backyards)
- Foster or sponsor another animal
Fostering or sponsoring another rescue animal in memory of your pet can help you celebrate your pet’s life and stay involved in the pet-loving community.
- Have a Ceremony
You could commemorate your pet with a ceremony to celebrate the pet in a positive way. World Animal Day (usually celebrated Oct 4) can be a great way to share the love of pets lost.
Pet loss and grief other resources
I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm (Crown Publishers, Inc; 1985), is a tender book that will touch any family member, especially children who have grown up with their pets and then have to say goodbye.
When a Pet Dies, by Fred Rogers (Family Communications, Inc; 1988), is an excellent book that is both direct and gentle and encourages children to share their feelings of loss.
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen (Bantam Books; 1983), may seem slightly juvenile, but the book covers dying in different living things (ie, plants, animals, people) and explains how birth and death are both a part of life.