Pets are more than just animals. They are furry members of the family and quickly become your best friends. You find yourself talking to them as if they are human. You build a bond with them. It can be difficult to say goodbye to pets and can be like losing a family member. The grieving process applies to any type of death, pets included. Pet memorialization is a good way to have some closure.
Here are five pet memorial ideas funeral professionals can share with their client families to remember their furry loved ones.
1. Hold a funeral or memorial service
Just like any family death, it is important to properly say your goodbyes following the loss of a pet. This can be done by holding a funeral or memorial service. Some communities have pet funeral homes that hold services for a deceased pet and offer grief support. The service can be whatever the family feels is appropriate – a fully decked-out service with a casket, flowers and eulogy or a quiet family gathering to share memories and pictures. Whichever a family chooses, remember that the service is for those who were closest to the pet. It can help comfort them and provide the closure and acceptance they need to face their loss.
If there are children, particularly if they are having difficulty accepting the loss, it may be beneficial to have the child create a poem, write a letter or draw a picture. Have them get creative with it, as creativity is a good outlet for emotions.
2. Place a headstone on the final resting place
If a family chooses to bury their pet, encourage them to place a headstone or decorative stone at the grave. This can act as a place to visit from time to time and recall fond memories of their pet.
If the family chooses not to bury their pet, there are other ways they can be memorialized. Have the kids make their own stepping stone. This way, they will be able to take part in the pet memorialization and have time to say their goodbyes. They could also plant a tree or shrub in memory of their furry friend. Whichever they choose, encourage them to place it in a special spot – the garden or maybe even their pet’s favorite spot to lay in the yard.
3. Create a photo book
Many pet owners have tons of pictures of their pets. While those photos will never truly capture a pet’s personality or soul, they serve as memories of the fun times you had together. Just as family members want to be remembered, pets too deserve to be brought to mind.
Encourage your client families to put those memories into a book. Websites like Shutterfly make it easy to compile photos into a memory book. Then, when pets are missed, a family can flip through it and remember all of the good times they shared.
4. Donate time or money to the local animal shelter or humane society
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends families wait at least one month before bringing another pet into the home. But that doesn’t mean a family needs to avoid animals completely. Volunteering at the local animal shelter or humane society can be a great option to help deal with grief. By being surrounded by other animals, grieving individuals can remind themselves why they chose to adopt their pets in the first place. They might also consider making a monetary contribution to the shelter in their pet’s name.
If a pet suffered from a disease that is under research, families might want to consider donating to the cause in their pet’s name. Tying their name to a contribution could be one more act of love.
5. Order a stuffed animal version of their pet
Companies like Cuddle Clones can recreate a stuffed animal version of a beloved pet. All they need is a picture to create an exact replica of a pet, incorporating their unique characteristics like that spot on your dog that looked like a star. Families will be able to cherish their pets and have a little reminder of them every day.
Holding ceremonies, making mementos or donating time can all be tools to help with the loss of a pet. No matter how your client families choose to remember their pets, keep in mind that each person grieves differently. Just like any death, encourage families to allow themselves time to mourn. After all, pets are more than pets: they are family. Contact your Homesteaders account executive to discover more pet memorialization ideas for client families.