The loss of any family member can be a devastating event. Grief and sorrow in the face of such an occurrence are natural, and part of that grieving process often involves determining meaningful ways to memorialize your passed loved one. While beloved pets are not human, they can play just as important a role in your family - and losing them can be just as devastating as any other death, especially if you have had the companion animal for a long time.
In this case, memorializing your pet is as crucial a step in the grieving process as it is for dealing with any loss. That's why we've gathered some of the most thoughtful, comforting, and insightful ways to memorialize a pet that has crossed the rainbow bridge. Let's take a look at some of the different ways that you can memorialize your pet with love and affection.
How to Have a Funeral for Pet
First and foremost, you should not ignore your desire to provide your beloved companion animal with a proper send-off. Holding a funeral for your pet is one way to do so with dignity and grace as befits their position as a treasured companion and member of the family. The process of how to have a funeral for a pet is not that different from that of a funeral for a human — you can invite those who were closest to your pet to a memorial service as well as to a burial or a ceremonial scattering of your pet's cremated remains.
The funeral can be as casual or formal as you'd like. It can be in your backyard with some friends, or at a cemetery with a property ceremony. You can include music and readings and even give a eulogy, if you feel any of that would bring you comfort.
Can a Funeral Home Help Memorialize a Pet?
Something you may be wondering when determining how to memorialize a pet is if a funeral home or cemetery can help, the way they can with a person. A very common question is: do funeral homes cremate pets?
The answer to both questions is yes. Not only can funeral homes and cemeteries help make key decisions about your pet's memorialization, many of them can cremate the pet for you, and provide any number of types of vessels and other memorialization options. They can also help plan a service, and many cemeteries have special areas reserved as pet cemeteries. So you have options whether you want the funeral home to cremate your pet or you prefer to bury the pet in a cemetery
What to Say at a Pet Funeral
Many people choose to say something about their pet during a pet memorialization ceremony. You can call it a eulogy or just feel like you want to say a few words, but it can be quite cathartic to say something about your beloved pet.
But what to say at a pet funeral? There's no reason it needs to be any different from what you might say at a funeral for a person. You can recount their life, mention their favorite activities, explain the impact they had on you and others, and go over anything else that strikes you as important. The idea here is to bring yourself, and others who loved the pet, comfort. That normally involves stories from the pet's life, or ways they made you feel loved, like a cat knowing when you were upset and joining your lap at the exact time you needed it, or finally agreeing to allow a dog to sleep on the bed for the first time. This is an opportunity to share memories and feelings. Ultimately, what to say at a pet funeral is entirely up to you and what will bring comfort to you and the others in attendance
Beyond a Funeral Service
A funeral or memorial service is a one-time event that's meant to provide opportunities to commemorate the life of the deceased, whether human or animal. Yet the memorialization of your pet need not stop at that - there are other ways to memorialize your petthat are less ephemeral. What follows is a short but detailed list of ways to build a lasting tribute to a lost family pet.
A Headstone or Grave Marker
Whether you're laying your pet to rest in a pet cemetery, burying them on your own property, or scattering their cremated remains in a favorite location, you can mark the site in a more permanent way. Having an appropriately-sized headstone or grave marker provides you opportunities to visit in the future in times when you miss your pet or wish to celebrate their life.
A New Plant or Tree
Planting a new tree, bush, or flower bed in commemoration of your companion animal is another wonderful way to remember them. Tending the plant over the months and years to come serves as a gentle reminder of the many joys that owning a pet bestows upon us, and beautiful leaves and flowers that returnevery spring can be a comfort — even though your pet is gone, a legacy can live on.
A Keepsake Ornament or Memory Box
Pets tend to be with us for such relatively short amounts of time, but they have such a deep impact on our lives. Another meaningful way to memorialize a pet is by creating a memory box filled with pictures of your pet as well as relevant items such as their tags, collar, or favorite toy. Additionally, you can create a keepsake, such as a Christmas tree ornament, featuring a photograph or artwork of your pet so that they can be part of family celebrations even while gone.
A Donation to an Animal Shelter or Charity
Many people enjoy adopting their companion animals from animal shelters or charities, as there are many pets that are ready and waiting to be brought home to their forever homes. These shelters are often run as non-profit institutions, relying on donations of time, money, or materials to serve the community. Particularly if you adopted your pet, a fitting tribute to the love that animal brought into your life is to make such a donation, either to the shelter you adopted them from or to one that you know and trust.
A New Pet
It can always be difficult to get a new pet after you lose one. Many choose not to due to feelings of guilt related to "replacing" your pet, while others feel the need to wait months or even years before they feel comfortable doing so. Yet you may want to reconsider this, as adopting a new pet can be a boon not just for you but for the animal as well. Taking an animal once again into your home, providing for its needs, and making it part of your family can be a wonderful tribute to the pet that preceded it, as you're giving yet another animal a chance to experience a safe, happy, and healthy life.
Memorialize a Pet and Honor Their Memory
Every pet is different, as is every pet owner. There is no universal "right" or "wrong" way how to memorialize a pet or a proper thing to say at a pet funeral. What's important, instead, is to choose a way that feels right for you when it comes to celebrating your pet's life and the joy that having that pet in your own life brought you. Whether that's holding a funeral, creating a physical memorial like a grave, an ornament, or a keepsake box, or helping other animals in need of love is up to you. Whatever you choose, you can know your pet would be proud.
If you would like any guidance, you can search for a local funeral home or cemetery here.