Remembering your Pets in Memorable Ways
Let's face it, your pets are your soulmates. They know how to make you laugh, cry and feel overwhelmingly happy when you come home. They understand you and are always there for you. That's why when they pass, it can feel like you've lost your best friend.
You love them like family, so why not honour them in the same way? Funeral services for pets are becoming mainstream and offer more possibilities than ever before.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt says of pet funerals: “It provides a time to acknowledge the loss, share memories of the pet and create a focus for the family to openly express emotions.” And never mind what others may think, they may try to downplay the significance of your pet by saying things like – “it was just a dog” or “you can always get another one”. These things only hurt and can worsen the feelings you already have. Dr. Wolfelt further adds: “While some friends or even family members may think having a funeral for your pet is foolish, don't let them take this special time away.”
You can perform your own memorial service for your pet or your can use a local pet funeral home.
Pet funeral homes do not yet exist in every city so this option is not as popular as performing your own memorial service. However, for those funeral homes that do cater to pets offer a variety of options to make your memorial service special.
Pick up of your pet from your home or veterinarian
Prepare your pet for viewing/visitation
Offer facilities for holding a memorial service
Arrange for cremation or burial in a pet cemetery
Offer supplies for the memorial service
Provide counseling resources and support for you and your family
Some funeral homes even offer space funerals for those looking for an out-of-this-world memorial experience.
If you decide to conduct your own memorial service for your pet there are many resources online that provide helpful tips on how to make it special. A recurring theme is that children should play a central role in the service. They should be the ones to pick out the coffin, compose and deliver the eulogy, assume the role of minister, etc. This may be their first time saying goodbye to a loved one, it's important that they have the time and space to grieve.
There are lots of ways you can remember your pet. Reflect on their life by watching video footage of your best moments together. You can have attendees of your pet's memorial service write down their thoughts and favourite memories on paper which you can place in the casket or use later to create a memorial scrap book along with photos and other mementos of your pet.
A particularly touching sentiment comes from the Roberts family who memorialized their beloved dog Duke in a photo diary of his final day before being put to sleep due to complications with cancer. For his last day, they took him to a water park, fed him hamburgers, and visited his favourite people. Photographer Robyn Arouty captured these moments and said: "Photographing [and] documenting Duke that day has really empowered people to find a way to cope and ease the pain of letting a pet go by celebrating them while they are still here."
No matter how you decide to honour your pet, make sure you do so in a way that honours your unique relationship. A pet loves you unconditionally and their memorial is your chance to show how much they meant to you.