Woman holding a pet ferret

How to Plan a Pet Funeral

Death Rituals Can Help You Heal

When a loved one passes, the need for closure and the confronting of grief is universal, whether they have two feet or four paws. For as long as we’ve been inviting animals into our homes, we’ve been holding funerals for pets, with memorials recorded as far back as ancient Egypt.

Whether your pet is your furbaby or your best friend, their loss can leave a hole in your heart that seems like it may never close. Children may feel this loss even more keenly, especially if they have known a pet the whole of their young lives. The house may feel bigger and emptier without your furry companion scampering across the floors. The sorrow can be overwhelming in a way others may not fully understand.

Holding a funeral for your pet is a chance to mend that emptiness. To say goodbye to a loving family member, one who has been at your side for years, in a way that feels right for you and for them. The creation of new, personalized traditions can help to fill the void left behind, while ensuring your pet stays close to your heart.

Pet Funeral Ceremony Ideas

Just as every pet is different, there are many ways to plan a pet funeral. A memorial service for your pet can be as big or as small as you want, as sad or as joyful. There’s simply no wrong way to say goodbye to your furry friend.

A Reading

Whether you hold a small ceremony in the backyard or a gathering at their favorite dog park, a reading is a good way to pay tribute to your lost loved one. Find a passage from a favorite book that reminds you of your pet, or choose from the many poems written to help your furry friend find their way across the rainbow bridge.

Symbolic Activities

Think of your pet’s personality and incorporate symbolic activities into the ceremony. Retire their favorite cardboard box, leave the birdcage open, or throw a tennis ball one last time. Have guests share their favorite stories and memories, or take a moment of silence to remember your pet.

Outdoor Ceremony

If you decide that cremation is right for you, you may want to scatter your pet’s ashes at their favorite park or hold a ceremony as you bury the ashes in a backyard memorial garden. You can also plant a tree in their honor or install a stone marker in your yard, to keep them forever in your memory. Before scattering on private property, you’ll need permission from the property owner. For public land, like a park, you’ll need to check with the city or other entity that manages the park.

Indoor Memorial

If you’d rather keep things more intimate, an indoor memorial can be made from photographs, favorite toys, paw prints, fur clippings, or other keepsakes. Best Friends offers several ways to help remember your pet, as well as a private viewing service, a chance to say goodbye, in person, before cremation.

Grief will be different for everyone, and the important thing is to figure out a method of remembering and celebrating that works best for you. You and your family should plan a funeral for your pet that incorporates whatever you need to heal.

Help Your Children Become Involved

The loss of a pet is often a child’s first interaction with death. It can be a scary and overwhelming time, and they may not yet have the emotional tools to understand what is happening. Allowing your child to help with organizing and planning a funeral for their pet can help them move through their grief and alleviate some of those bad feelings.

Becoming involved in the memorialization process—as much or as little as they feel comfortable with—allows your child to take some control over what can feel like an overpowering situation. Breaking a funeral down into actionable steps and seeing everyone come together to assist  can help them understand that this is something that happens, not something that is happening to them. Taking care of their pet one last time might even help them find a way to say goodbye.

If you choose cremation, allow your child to help pick out an urn or other memorial item. If you’re planting a tree or a garden, let your child help decide which flowers to plant. If you’re holding a memorial gathering for your pet, be sure to ask your child who they would like to invite.

Whatever kind of pet funeral you decide to have, encourage your child to share happy memories of their pet and allow them to express their feelings, whatever shape that may take. If they are older, you may even want to ask if your child is interested in taking part in a reading or even a eulogy at their pet’s memorial ceremony.

Of course, if your child is too upset or sad and chooses not to get involved, that’s okay, too. Encourage your child to share and be part of the funerary process if they want to, but be sure to leave the final decision up to them. Because everyone, children included, grieves in their own way.

Best Friends Pet Passings and Cremation is here to make saying goodbye as peaceful as possible. Call us at 505-345-5615 to schedule service or learn about the memorial jewelry, urns, and keepsakes we offer that can help you to memorialize your pet after they’re gone.

Woman holding a pet ferret