Creating a memorial to a pet can be a positive step forward in the grieving process, it can help the pet carer adjust to their loss and find acceptance. Keeping a pets memory alive by way of a memorial allows the pet carer to honour their pet and know that although their pet is no longer by their side, they will never be forgotten.
There are limitless ways in which to memorialise a pet, from framing a treasured photograph to commissioning a bronze life size statue. Whatever the pet carer decides is appropriate for their companion can help with the grieving process.
Memorialising a pet can begin as soon as their pet dies by way of a funeral or some pet carers prefer to wait some considerable time before they feel ready to create a lasting tribute.
Funeral Service for a Pet
Pet carers want to ‘do the right thing’ when their pet dies, they want their pets treated with dignity, and afterwards they want their pets remembered. An important part of the healing process includes memorialising pets.
It may seem rather ostentatious to talk of a funeral service for a pet, however over the years, as attitudes change towards pets and their status within the family changes, pet carers look for ways to memorialise their pet in the same way they would any member of the family.
It is not unheard of for pet carers to write an obituary for their pet and is fairly common for celebrities or well-known personalities to announce the death of their pet in a newspaper or online. An obituary to a pet is generally a short biography of their life and what they meant to their family.
Some pet carers choose to have a small service for their pets when they are buried or for those who wish to have their pet privately cremated, many pet crematoria have a farewell room or chapel of rest in which families can spend time with their pets and have their own private funeral service prior to the pet being cremated.
Funeral Service at Home
To prepare a pet funeral service in the garden at home writing the service in advance will help the pet carer.
Once the pet is buried or cremated the pet carer often looks for ways to memorialise their pet. Some know exactly how they will achieve this, whilst others in their grief, are at a loss as to know what to do.
There are so many options available to pet carers from something very simple and inexpensive, to the more ornate, elaborate and expensive. Deciding what would be the right option is purely a personal choice and it should be something fitting to the pet and their family.
If a pet has been cremated individually then the crematorium will return the ashes of the pet to the carer in an urn or scatter tube. The pet carer will usually be able to choose what type of urn the ashes are presented, with most crematoria offering a standard individual cremation package, which would usually include an urn, made of either wood or cardboard. The crematorium will usually have alternative urns available at an additional cost; these urns can be more ornate or made out of different materials, such as brass, copper or metal.
Pet carer’s tastes will vary, however, it’s important that they are aware of the large range of urns available. They do not need to choose an urn from the crematorium; many online shops or auction sites sell a multitude of different urns, in all shapes and sizes. The pet carer should remember that if they do not purchase an urn as part of the cremation package from the crematorium, that they will have to transfer their pets ashes to the new urn, this is a task some pet carers will not consider and may have difficulty doing.
Creating a shrine
Shrines or altars can be temporary or permanent. Pet carers may choose what items they feel are most fitting and layout the shrine in a way most meaningful to them. It could include items like a photograph of the pet, the pet’s collar and a candle.
Take a paw or nose print
Paw and nose prints can be taken prior to the pet dying or after the pet has died. The most common ways to take the imprint is either by ink or clay. Kits are available to purchase online or some veterinary practices offer this service.
Take a hair clipping
You can take a clipping from your pet at any time, however if the pet has short hair, it’s often easier to take a clipping after the pet has died.
Journal or write a poem
Many pet carers find writing cathartic and this allows them to explore their emotions, thus helping with the grieving process. They can write the story of their pets’ life, perhaps recounting the happy memories, or write a piece of poetry about their pet.
A keepsake or memory box
This allows the pet carer to keep all their special items belonging to their pet in one place. They can purchase a memory box from a retailer online, or they may prefer to decorate and personalise a box they already have at home.
Ash into jewellery
There are many jewellers online who will take a small amount of a pet’s ash and incorporate it into the making of an item of jewellery like a necklace, a ring or bracelet. These come in a number of designs, paw print or bone shaped being the most popular and the ash can be visible depending on the design.
Ash to Diamond
These are laboratory grown diamonds produced from animal ash or fur. They are very realistic looking ‘diamonds’ but take months to produce and tend to be rather expensive. These of course become treasured items as they hold no monetary value other than to the pet carer.
Ash into glass
A pet carer may wish to have a vase or paper weight made that includes their pet’s ash. There are many companies online who offer this service.
Living memorial or Tree Urn
Is a biodegradable urn or bio urn that grows a tree in combination with the pet’s ashes. There are also biodegradable water urns if the pet’s ashes are to be put out at sea.
Framing a favourite photo - choosing the right frame at this time is important. There are so many frames to choose from and many can be personalised with the pets name on them.
A photograph can be put on to many items including cushions, mugs, mouse mats etc. A photo cushion can be a comfort for a child to hold and remember their pet.
If you are fortunate enough to have a garden or balcony, creating a living memorial with plants like forget me not, rose bush, or any other tree, plant or flowers that you
like, is a lovely way to remember your companion.
Some pet carers may like to have their pets name or face tattooed and some tattoo parlours offer a service whereby they can infuse the pets ash with the ink to create the tattoo.
Create an online memorial, website or blog
Many online memorials to pets are offered free of charge, however it is worth checking first. Some find it cathartic to share their pet’s story by writing a blog about them or creating a website dedicated to their pet.
Commission a piece of art
There are various options when considering a piece of art to commemorate a pet’s life. This can be either a painting by an artist, or a very elaborate statue cast in bronze.
Make a donation or leave a legacy or raise funds for a local animal rescue
Last but by no means least, one of the best ways to memorialise a pet is to give hope to another by way of a monetary donation or legacy. Local animal rescues or breed specific charities are always grateful for donations.
Dawn Murray, the founder of Living with Pet Bereavement, will have her new book published in March 2023 - 'A Guide to Pet Bereavement Counselling' will be a must for anyone looking to learn more about how to become a Pet Bereavement Counsellor or those looking to support bereaved pet carers either in a professional or informal setting. To pre-order a copy or to find out more please email firstname.lastname@example.org