While many people think of the pet funeral as a modern custom, people have memorialized their pets since ancient times. And while holding a pet funeral may not be for everyone, many experts believe that holding some type of ceremony or ritual can help us cope with the loss of a treasured animal friend.
Whether you choose burial or cremation for your pet’s final disposition, your approach to memorialization can be true to your religious views or environmental concerns. Your ceremony can be as simple a saying a few words or as elaborate as a human funeral. What’s right for you will depend on personal preference.
You have many options when it comes to planning a pet funeral. Depending on the regulations in your area you can hold a simple backyard ceremony or you can engage the services of a pet funeral home and pet cemetery. Funeral homes and cemeteries are staffed by people who understand that pet loss can be just as painful as losing a human family member. They offer burial and cremation services, and for a fee, provide caskets, urns and grave markers designed especially for pets. If you don’t have a pet funeral home or cemetery located near you, contact a traditional funeral home. Many accommodate requests for pet services.
To plan the most meaningful event, consider the people who were significant in your pet’s life. Invite them to participate. To choose the perfect location, think about your pet’s favorite places. Was the backyard or window seat the spot where you were most likely to find him or her? The beach or the park, perhaps? Hold the event in that spot or bring photos of their special place to the funeral home. Gather additional photos and memorabilia, like pet toys, so guests can recall favorite memories. Was there a favorite food that held your pet’s attention? Consider making that food part of your service.
While there are no hard and fast rules regarding what to include in your pet’s memorial, there are common elements that many people include. These are similar to those you see in human funerals but are typically much simpler. Of course, it is up to you how elaborate you would like your ceremony to be but pet funerals, in general, are much shorter and more casual than human funerals.
Pet Funeral: Common Elements
- Candle Lighting: Many people like to include a simple candle lighting ceremony since it is an appropriate way to symbolize the spiritual nature of the ceremony.
- Prayers and Blessings: Depending on religious beliefs, an appropriate prayer of blessing may be included.
- Poems, Readings, and Songs: There are many touching poems and readings available that can be used to express your feelings about the loss of your pet and characterize the nature of the pet’s life. Songs are also a popular way to celebrate.
- Sharing of Memories: Telling a story about your pet and its relationship to your family can be cathartic. It will also give you the chance to share your feelings and introduce some humor into the ceremony. Consider asking others to also share their memories.
- Memorial Photographs and Videos: People often display photos of their pet which represent the spirit of the animal. If the location of the ceremony will allow and you have video footage of your pet interacting with family members, this can be a wonderful way to remember your pet.
- Closing Goodbye: A popular way to end the ceremony is by giving a final farewell to your pet.
Other Ways to Memorialize your Pet
A pet funeral or memorial service is just one of the ways you can honor your pet. Below are just a few of the other ways that you can pay your respects to a beloved family animal.
- Take a walk along a favorite route your pet enjoyed.
- Plant a tree or shrub to honor your pet’s life.
- In honor of your pet, encourage donations to an organization that benefits animals.
- Scatter the ashes in a pet’s favorite location.
- Have a garden stone or memorial made for your garden.
- Have a diamond or gemstone made from your pet’s ashes.
- Create a special spot in your home to contain an urn with your pet’s ashes. Include photos or other memorabilia.
Preplanning A Pet Funeral
You may even consider preplanning for your pet’s funeral, just as many people do for themselves. This saves precious energy and time just when you feel the most grief. Preplanning can also offer financial advantages. Preplanning funeral arrangements are easier to accomplish before a loved one passes, the same is true for preplanning a service for a cherished pet.