Tributes to Your Pet - May 11
by Nancy Piper
Once you have loved and lost a pet, it is only natural and normal that you pay tribute to him in some manner. You may be a quiet person who will quietly pay homage to your pet. Or you may be a more outgoing person who wants to have a party to celebrate your time with your pet. Or you may be anywhere in between. Whatever you decide to do is okay; it is what is right for you at the time. There are numerous ways you can honor the life of your beloved companion animal.
Funeral or Memorial Service
You may decide to have a Funeral Service or a Memorial Service; just you, or you and your family, or you and close friends who knew your pet. Celebrate his life with stories. Play songs which remind you of him. Read scripture. Put photographs or personal notes in with your pet or your pet’s cremated remains. The Memorial Service does not have to be immediately after the death of your pet. You can have it at any time, even years later if you still have the need.
Remembering Your Pet
There are several craft projects you can do in memory of your pet. Make a scrapbook. Go to a scrapbook class if you need to learn how to make one. If you quilt, make a quilt with favorite pictures of you and your pet on it. You can make things in memory of your pet, using embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch or knitting, to donate to an animal rescue to auction off at a fund raiser. You could also make pottery, birdhouses, and paint pictures for the same purpose.
Sort through your pictures and make a photo album of only your pet’s pictures. Get the type of photo album with room to write by the pictures and record the occasion or how you felt at that time. Or make a photo collage, also with words and phrases to express your feelings. You can write on it, or cut words out of magazines to put on the collage.
Send out announcements of your pet’s death to friends and family. You can also carry this announcement with you. When friends ask you about your pet, you can hand them the announcement instead of having to tell them. Sometimes tears make telling a hard thing to do.
In Memory of Your Pet
• Keep a grief journal of your feelings for a period of time, say six weeks. At the end of the period, go back and re-read your entries. You will be able to see progress in your healing. Continue to write in your grief journal as long as you feel a need.
• Write your pet’s story. You can do this over a period of time. Record your life together. Write how your pet came into your life; write both of the good and not-so-good times; write about the favorite things you did together, your favorite memories as well as your not-so-favorite memories. This will become a treasured personal document in time.
• Write a letter to your pet. Writing down how you feel about what happened, telling your pet all the things you wish you would have told him or things you wish you would have done.
• Write an obituary to be published in the local paper.
• Using photographs of your pet, make a screensaver or slide show for your computer.
• Volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue group or a breed-specific rescue group. You can walk dogs, clean dog runs, clean cat boxes, volunteer at fund raisers or publicity events. You can also foster a pet or pets.
• Donate to an animal rescue group or animal humane society in memory of your pet.
• Have a photo put on a pillow or blanket, so you can cuddle with your pet. Have a photo of your pet put on a mug, Christmas ornament, or a calendar. Have a t-shirt or sweatshirt made with your pet’s photo on it.
• Specially made lockets are available that will hold a small amount of your pet’s cremated remains. Put a picture of your pet in a locket. You also might be able to engrave the lockets.
• Make a Memorial Shrine, with photos, keepsakes, collar, tags, treats, toys, perhaps a fur clipping.
• Create a shadow box with similar mementos.
• Organize a garage sale to raise money for the rescue group of your choice in memory of your pet.
• Plant a tree, shrub or perennial flower in your pet’s favorite place in your yard.
• Place a memorial stone in your yard or garden for your pet.
• Write an on-line blog of your pet and upload photos. Update it periodically with your memories of your pet.
• Volunteer at a wild-life rescue.
• Write a poem or a song about your pet.
• Write a tribute to your pet and submit it to the local newspaper for publication.
• Buy personalized stepping stones for your garden.
• Buy a personalized paving brick at your local animal shelter, to be placed in their walkway.
• Draw a picture of your pet or have a portrait painted by a professional artist from a photograph.
• Take a pottery class and make an urn for your pet’s cremated remains.
• Get sponsors and participate in the local humane society’s annual walk/run to raise money for them.
Any or all of these things can be done in memory of your pet. Allow these ideas to fuel your imagination — you may come up with other ways to pay tribute to your pet.
A Special Place In Your Heart
Your pet will always have a place in your heart. The pictures and memories of him and the love you shared will always be a part of you. Your pets will always be alive in your heart, which is a joyous thing.
Nancy Bush Piper has owned Rolling Acres Memorial Gardens for Pets, a pet cemetery, crematorium, and funeral home in Kansas City for over 32 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology. Piper continued her education in the cemetery industry, attending the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association University for two years, where she also taught a course one year. She was certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist in 1999 by the Grief Recovery Institute. Piper worked in the human cemetery and funeral industry before, and after she became involved with the after-life care of pets. Nancy and her husband, Gary, are blessed with many animals. For fun, she studies horsemanship and plays with her horses and mules.