A pet’s death can take a heavy toll. The emotional impact can be as great or even greater than the loss of a relative. Our pets are a major part of our everyday lives, so it can be frustrating when we feel like other people don’t seem to recognize or acknowledge the profound nature of that loss as much as they might for other deaths in the family. You may feel the need to preserve your pet’s memory in a significant manner. Here are 12 ways you can memorialize your deceased pet.
Have a proper funeral.
There are good reasons why humans, and even some animals, hold funeral or memorial services when deaths occur. It’s respectful to gather with other people who knew a recently deceased person and acknowledge what he or she meant to us. Our pets deserve the same respect. Take the time to gather as many family and friends as you wish to eulogize your pet together. The ritual can be as understated or as elaborate as you like. There are even funeral homes that specialize in pet “aftercare.”
Write an obituary.
You may find comfort in eulogizing your pet with a written obituary, either in addition to or instead of a funeral. Reflecting on and writing down your thoughts and memories about your late friend is a good way to create a fitting tribute, and it can help you through your grief. Some newspapers may even be willing to print obituaries for pets, so don’t be afraid to ask for yours to be published. Even if your local paper says no, you can still keep your pet’s obit in a scrapbook, or you could even frame it.
Create a tribute website.
If you want to collect and write down your memories, but you’d like your writing to continue over time, making a website dedicated to your late pet is a great way to maintain and ongoing tribute. It could take the form of a blog, a Facebook page, a photo collection or anything else you can imagine. You can update your tribute site whenever thoughts of your pet enter your mind, and it’s a great way to share your memories with friends and family.
Design a special gravestone.
If you choose to bury your pet’s body in your own yard, you may wish to mark the grave site in some permanent way. Many people use decorative garden stones to accentuate their yards. A garden stone engraved with your pet’s name makes an appropriate and understated marker for your friend’s final resting place.
Donate in your pet’s name.
With charitable giving, you can allow your pet to continue making a positive impact on people’s lives even after its death. You can donate in your pet’s name to any cause you like. No doubt your local animal shelter would be thrilled to receive a gift. It can be a one-time donation or a recurring one; it’s up to you. If you’d rather save our pennies, you can still volunteer your time at an animal shelter in the positive spirit of your loyal friend.
Commission a portrait.
You don’t have to wait for your pet to pass away to do this, but if he or she is already gone, there’s no reason why you can’t preserve his or her memory with a work of fine art. You can pay a professional to paint your deceased pet working from a photograph, or if you believe in your own artistic ability, or just want your painting to be more personal, you can of course do it yourself.
Keep its tags on a keychain.
Not all tributes need to be about making things, buying things or being demonstrative. You can do something simple, too — like keeping your pet’s ID tags as a memento. Carry them on your keychain so they’ll be with you wherever you go. You can even use the collar your pet used to wear as your keychain.
Plant a tree.
From death comes life. A good way to memorialize your pet in a way that will continue to grow as a living legacy is to plant a tree in his or her memory. Whether it’s in your own yard, a park or some other place, planting a tree in your pet’s name will allow you to create a lasting memorial that will literally live on for years to come.
This option certainly isn’t for everybody, but it’s not unheard of. Many pet owners are not willing to say goodbye to their pets’ physical forms, and so choose to preserve them through taxidermy or freeze-drying, and keep the figures on display in their homes. Some pet owners find it creepy or upsetting, but others see it as a beautiful way to keep a deceased pet around forever.
Turn it into a diamond.
This one is unusual, a possibly cost-prohibitive, but if you have a lot of disposable income and your pet was especially precious to you, you can turn its cremated remains into an actual diamond. According to Mother Nature Network, it’s a multi-step process: “The cremated remains are heated to 5,000 degrees Celsius, which reduces them to purified carbon. The carbon then goes into a diamond press, where heat and pressure are applied at the same time to create the gem.” The process takes about nine months and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. (MNN)
Turn it into fireworks.
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” Neil Young said. It’s true. And you can take those words literally by sending your deceased pet off with a literal bang, thanks to Ashes to Ashes, a company that allows you to “commemorate the loss of a loved one by scattering their cremated ashes high into the sky in a beautiful and spectacular fireworks display.” Ashes to Ashes offers its services for human loved ones, too, but its business is really booming with pets.
Next: Mourning the Loss of a Pet
Adopt a new pet.
Each person grieves in his or her own unique way, and getting over the loss of a pet can mean different things to different people. But when the time is right, you’ll likely be ready to welcome a new animal companion into your life, whether it is weeks or years after your deceased pet passed away. It’s up to you to decide when it’s appropriate, but perhaps the best thing you can do to honor your pet’s memory is to choose another shelter animal who needs a home and give it the love you shared with your late friend.