Pet Funeral and Memorial Ceremony Ideas
It’s not easy saying goodbye. Here are some ways to honor your companion.
When a human loved one dies, a funeral or memorial service provides an outlet for grief and a way to honor their memory. This is just as true for the animals you love. Pets are family, and their loss can be excruciatingly painful. Losing a pet can also feel very isolating, and some people may not understand what you’re going through. When a person dies, everyone expects there to be a funeral and a period of mourning. But people don’t always know what to do when a pet dies, even when that pet is a beloved and integral part of the family.
Having a ritual to follow can help you deal with the intense emotions that come with grief and loss. Gathering with friends and family who may also be grieving helps comfort, as well as normalizes and validates your own feelings. Coming together in grief gives you an opportunity to share the good times you had with your pet as well, which help in healing from loss. Children especially may benefit from a pet funeral service, especially if they’ve never faced this kind of loss before.
Memorial Ideas for Pets
Your animal companion’s funeral can be as involved or simple as you prefer. It can be somber in tone or more lighthearted, focusing on positive memories. What matters is that you take some time to honor your pet, share your grief with others who are also mourning, and to let yourself feel.
Here are a few ideas that may inspire you while planning your pet memorial service:
- Collect photographs of your pet and assemble a photo collage or slide show. Looking over old photographs can help remind you of good memories, and you’ll have a lasting memorial to look back on when you’re finished. If you’ll be keeping their ashes, a photo urn with places to store pictures is a great option. You can sit with your child or other family members and decide together which pictures to choose.
- Share stories. One of the best ways to begin healing is to reflect on positive memories. Make it memorable by meeting with friends and family at a special location, such as your pet’s favorite park, or by preparing or ordering a special dinner in the pet’s honor. Encourage everyone to share sweet and funny stories about your pet. You might even want to record these on video or write them down in a book or on slips of paper that can be stored in a memory jar or scrapbook. That way, you or your child can look back on these memories any time you want long after the ceremony is finished.
- Write a letter or poem. You can read this at a memorial service if you wish, but you don’t have to. Sometimes simply writing down everything you’re feeling is enough. Write to your pet to say how much you miss him or what you wish she could know. Craft a poem honoring your pet’s best qualities. Children who may otherwise struggle to express or process their feelings may benefit a lot from writing about them instead.
- Set up an altar or ofrenda. If you will be keeping your pet’s ashes at home, consider dedicating a small table to the urn and surrounding it with things that remind you of your pet: collars and tags, favorite toys, photographs, even treats. You might like to light a candle or burn incense in your pet’s honor as well. You can keep the altar up for as long as you need. It’s thoughtful to discuss with other family members before disassembling or moving it. You might even consider keeping ashes and a few other keepsakes together on a shelf or other location permanently as a forever reminder of your pet.
- Choose a memorial marker. If your pet is buried at home or their ashes are scattered in the garden, you might choose a grave marker for that spot. Even if your pet is not buried on your property, a memorial stone or marker can still be a great way to honor their memory and provide a permanent place to remember them. Pet memorial markers can be homemade or professionally crafted. They might be made of wood, stone or metal. A statue of your pet, a plaque bearing their name, or even a tree planted in their honor are all excellent ways to honor their memories and give you a place to reflect. Choosing a memorial marker together as a family can be a meaningful way to find peace.
- Remember your pet with a portrait or other keepsake. You might want to commission an artist to draw or paint your pet and keep the artwork on display near their ashes or on the wall. You and your family might also want to try your hand at drawing your animal. Even if you aren’t Michelangelo, sketching a simple portrait with love can be cathartic. Assemble your drawings into a collage alongside a few photographs as a memorial. There are also companies that make custom-made plush toys that resemble your pet. Having a physical reminder of your animal that can be held and snuggled can be very comforting for some.
The details of how you pay tribute to your pet after they have passed don’t matter as much, just that you and the people who loved them take the time to not only honor their memory, but honor yourselves and the time it takes to heal from their loss as well.
Pets are so much more than just animal companions. They are family, and they deserve to be remembered and celebrated. At Best Friends Pet Passings & Cremations, we understand how difficult it can be to lose a pet, and we exist to help families say goodbye in peace. If you’d like to learn more about our services or need help with a pet who has recently passed, please reach out to us at our Albuquerque, New Mexico location at 505-345-5615.