Written By: Melissa Kauffman, Catster & Dogster magazine editor
Losing a pet is like losing a family member. To some, it means saying goodbye to their best friend, their trustful companion, a piece of their heart.
Sooner or later all pet owners need to face reality. However, there are ways in which we can help ourselves grieve healthily and fully cherish the precious moments of good times. These seven creative and symbolic examples can serve you as inspiration or even a perfect idea to keep the memory of your dear furry friend vivid and eternal.
Have a funeral
One of the traditional, but still powerful ways to deal with grief is dedicating a small but meaningful gathering to celebrate the life and presence of your furry companion. You can always relive your happy moments by choosing a burial spot in your garden or somewhere near your home. Scattering ashes in a peaceful garden or any natural spot is a great way to honour a dog’s cheerful nature.
You can also place a garden stone with an inspiring sign, or a yard sculpture to separate the spot and make it a peaceful oasis for you to visit any time you want to kindle the memories.
It’s the little things that matter
You can repurpose and reuse your pet’s belongings to always carry a part of them by your side. A collar tag can become a beautiful keychain, you can use a photo and fill a necklace medallion, make a story-like photo album or a diary. A fun and engaging activity for the whole family could be organizing a DIY photoshoot, with funny props and maybe dressing up. If you really enjoy filming and taking pictures, try making a timelapse video collage of your cat or pup’s photos (take a picture at the same place every week, for example) from her first stumble to the last ecstatic zoomies. You’ll have a pawtastic treasure filled with amazing lifelong memories.
You can even keep a memory box filled with your pet’s favourite toys, blankets and other objects worthy of remembering. This can be a great way to involve children and the whole family to create something intimate and beautiful.
Let them leave a mark
Having something permanent, unchangeable like it’s been trapped in time can spark memories and maintain closeness with someone you lost. That’s why making a paw or a nose print is a good idea to memorialize your pooch or your kitty. It can make a cute tattoo as well, something to symbolize your friendship and closeness.
Give something back
What a powerful way to honour your pet! Donating money, food or just volunteering to help animal shelters and non-profit organizations will certainly make you feel better about yourself in the most positive way. Your cat or dog’s departure in this way means hope and love for many abandoned and unloved puppies or kittens whose course of future may be changed thanks to you.
Celebrate life with another life
Planting a tree or making a mini flower garden is another symbolic gesture to remember your pet. As the tree sprouts, blossoms and grows so does your love and appreciation for what you had. What’s more, plants are beautiful natural sculpting that can last for years. You will end up with magnificent live sculptures that you know have come to life thanks to your lifelong four-legged buddy.
Move on - adopt again
It may feel wrong at first replacing your cat or dog with another one, but before you realize it’s not replacing what you’re doing, it’s acceptance. The only way to truly pay your respects is to introduce feline or canine love and vigour into your life again. There are plenty of places to adopt a dog or kitty and give them a home and love they deserve. Give him or her attention, dedication, and friendship you would have continued to give to your deceased dog. Grief experts suggest, if possible, to select a different breed or sex, or just make sure the animal isn’t the spitting image. For example, if you owned a Border Collie and loved their herding breed nature, why not get a border collie in a different color?
Tell your story
A more popular trend in honouring deceased pets has become blogging or sharing stories on the internet. Writing has always been a useful tool in letting out negative and weighing emotions, just a creative way of making peace with yourself. Don’t be afraid to express your grief and accept it. At the same time, you’ll be creating a permanent memory that may be inspirational to other people who are dealing with similar things. Focus on the memorable moments, your dog’s precious character and the way he or she changed your life for the best. You’ll find yourself satisfied and empowered thinking about the positive.
Coping with sorrow and the pain of loss is always a very intimate and personal process. Amazingly, dog parents have been showing more and more ingenuity and creativity in commemorating their animal family members. Don’t be discouraged by those who don’t understand the magnetic and special dog-human connection. Find your own fitting way to say goodbye.