Memorialize your dog
Most American pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and well over half spend more time taking their pets to the vet than going to the doctor for themselves. They are also more likely to know the names of their neighbors’ pets than the names of their neighbors.
Given the rich and intense relationships most pet owners share with their animal companions, the loss of a pet can be very painful. The loss of a beloved pet can trigger overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness.
It may come as a surprise that you feel so deeply about your pet. You may have been aware, but not mindful, of the many wonderful gifts your pet brought to your life. For many, the loss of a pet is the loss of a trusted companion. As you experience sadness and grief about the death of your pet, take time to consider your pet’s special place in your life.
The questions below can help you understand why you are so sad and, hopefully, give you positive ways to remember your pet.
How did my pet come into my life?
What types of activities did we do together?
What important life moments did my pet see me through? (births, deaths, marriage, divorce, etc.)
How did being with my pet make me feel?
“How shall I grieve?” is a question to be answered differently by each person. Here are some suggestions which might be helpful:
Pay attention to your feelings, even if you don’t understand them. Write about your feelings and talk with others about them.
Don’t assume that the current grief will be like previous ones. You are not the same person who grieved before (though old griefs may definitely come alive in new sorrows).
Listen to music, especially instrumental music that helps express your sorrow and move through it.
Create your own art, music and poetry to express your feelings. Don’t worry whether it is “good.” Just do it.
Move your body. Walk in the woods, exercise or take a yoga class. Anything that gets you moving for at least a short time during the day can help lift your spirits.
Spend some time with others who have lost pets. Check out the message boards and pet loss support groups at the end of this article. If your own therapist or clergy does not work well with the grief of pet loss, find someone who does.
If you feel that a funeral would help you initiate the process of mourning and memorialize your pet’s life, you should have a funeral for your pet. Make your decision about a funeral based on what would be most helpful to you and others who loved the pet. For instance, if your pet was the beloved family dog, and you think a funeral would help your children say goodbye to the pet, it would probably be the right decision. If funerals generally depress you and you wish to do your grieving in another way, that is appropriate too.
If you choose to have a funeral, you can follow a traditional funeral format by inviting friends who knew your pet to your home, the woods, or another meaningful place. Use whatever poetry, spiritual readings, and/or music works best for you.
Rather than a funeral, you might have a memorial service for your pet. Again, this depends on your needs and desires. In addition to interment in a pet ceremony or cremation, possibilities include:
Creating a memorial in your home where you keep a photograph, a favorite pet belonging, flowers and any symbol of your relationship with your pet.
Giving to humane societies, programs that offer pet care to people who could not otherwise afford it, or other programs that have special meaning to you.
Creating a poem, piece of art or other work that expresses your love for your pet.
Sharing stories and memories about your pet with other family members and friends for the purpose of celebrating the love and joy your pet brought to your life.
Grieving might take you to your spiritual and emotional edges, so it’s often tempting to try to avoid it. Yet the more you are willing to embrace your emotions, the better equipped you are to live and love fully.
Now you can collect all of your important information about your pet in one scrapbook album and keep it safe. My Pet Memoir is a wonderful way to document and preserve your pet’s life as it stores your most precious memories. When your pet is gone, your My Pet Memoir scrapbook album will always hold your most special memories.