While all cultures have developed ways to pay last respects when people die, there are few traditions to mark the passing of our companion animals. Finding a personal way to say goodbye and honor our pets is important to our emotional health and well-being as we continue our lives without them. Here are five simple ways you can honor the memory of your pet.
Hold a memorial service.
Let yourself and others who knew and loved your pet say goodbye and share memories during a memorial service. You can hold a service anywhere that feels right to you-at a pet cemetery, in your backyard, in your pet’s favorite park, or at any place that reminds you of special times shared with your pet.
Find a special place for your pet’s ashes.
Keep your pet’s ashes in a beautiful urn or bury them in a meaningful place on your property. Jill, of Pacifica, California, and her family hiked two miles through the snow to put the ashes of their dog, Mighty, to rest in his favorite spot on their mountain property.
Create a living memorial.
Let your pet’s spirit live again on earth by planting a tree, bush, or flowerbed in your yard. Or attach a small plaque to a flowerpot or vase in your home. Sandy, of Lapeer, Michigan, planted daisies around her mailbox to honor her deceased beagle, Daisy, who had always gone with Sandy to fetch the mail.
Make a scrapbook.
Honor and remember your pet by creating a scrapbook or photo collage. Andrea, of Long Beach, California, has a memorial card her eighty-one-year-old father made in memory of her cockatiel, Pumpkin. The card, which includes loving words from the family and several photos, is displayed on Andrea’s coffee table alongside a photo of Pumpkin and a redwood box containing Pumpkin’s ashes.
Write down your feelings.
Put your emotions in writing by composing a poem or story about your pet’s life and what made her so special. You might even consider writing a letter to your departed pet, telling him how much you love and miss him. Christine, of Sunnyvale, California, wrote a first-person account from her cat Maya’s perspective as Maya left this world to join other animals in a better place. You can send your pet’s story to Kindred Spirits, or you can post it on a Web site.
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