Holding A Memorial Service for Your Pet
For centuries we have held funeral rituals and memorial services for loved ones who have passed away. These ceremonies allow us to grieve the passing of our loved ones while also celebrating the life they lived. They provide us with the opportunity to cope with loss and find the closure we need.
So why shouldn’t we do the same for our beloved pets? Our pets have given us years of joy and are regarded as members of the family. When their time is up we grieve in the same way as we do when a person close to us has died. Therefore, it only makes sense to honor them in a way that shows them the proper respect they deserve. A pet memorial service can benefit both adults and especially children as they offer family members the opportunity to pay tribute to a cherished family member.
World renowned grief counselor and director of the Center for Loss & Life Transition 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.”
In planning a pet memorial service there are a couple of choices you will be confronted with. Will you use a local pet funeral home or will you plan a pet memorial service in your home? Let us take a closer look at these two options.
Pet Funeral Homes
Over the last few years, pet funeral homes have emerged to offer services that will help you in planning a memorial service and the final disposition of your pet. Pet funeral homes are normally prepared to offer a variety of services to fulfill your needs. Among the services you will find are:
- Picking up of your pet from your home or veterinarian
- Preparation of your pet for viewing/visitation
- Facilities for holding a memorial service
- Arrangements for cremation or burial in a pet cemetery
- Supplies to enhance the above services
In addition some pet funeral homes offer resources and materials for counseling and support. If choosing this route it would be best to first visit with the pet funeral home to see what services they offer. However, not very many pet funeral homes are in existence today. While the pet funeral home industry is still in its infancy and not every market has one there is the option of planning your own pet memorial service.
Doing Your Own Pet Memorial Service
Not every city or town has a pet funeral home. As a result of this fact, some pet owners take it upon themselves to fashion their own memorial service for their cherished pet. A number of things can be done to create a suitable memorial service in your home to pay tribute to your loving pet. Here are some ideas:
Setting up a Viewing Area – you can create a setting for the viewing of your pet. Take a small table and place it in the room you wish to hold the memorial service. If your pet has been cremated, you can place the pet urn in the middle, or if you are planning to bury your pet, you can purchase a pet casket and place it in the middle of the table. If you are in need of a pet urn or casket you can purchase one online here. You can then surround the urn or casket with mementos such as:
- Dog or cat tags
- A special collar
- Various pictures depicting your pet's life
- Favorite toys your pet used to play with
If you don't have an urn or casket to memorialize, you can use a large photo that is framed or some other special article of theirs. You can further decorate the setting with candles and flowers.
Once the setting is complete, invite family members including children to eulogize, say prayers or speak of the happiest times with the pet. You can have participants write down their thoughts, poems or special prayers on cards or stationary which you can place in the casket or use later to create a memorial scrap book along with photos and other mementos.
Another idea is to compile video footage of your pet and show it at the memorial service to relive the happiest moments with your departed pet.
Once the ceremony is complete and if your pet is being buried, you can have the participants gather in the backyard or pet cemetery where the pet will be buried.
Since pets are regarded as family members, it is normal to grieve for them as such. Our pets accept and love us unconditionally and never pass judgment. We need to let our feelings of grief play out and creating a memorial service or funeral helps us to properly deal with our loss while giving us the opportunity to celebrate their life.