For pet parents, the most painful aspect of being a pet parent is almost always the fact that we tend to outlive our fur babies. This is, of course, also a good thing because even thought our fur babies do take care of us in so many ways, ultimately, they need us in their lives to survive long term. I, for one, would rather have my fur babies die before I do so that I can ensure that they have happy, healthy lives and are afforded a safe, dignified, pain-free death in comfortable surroundings with their loved ones close by. Once the inevitable happens, however, we are left behind to deal with the emotional aftermath of the loss. Here, then, are some suggestions on ways to celebrate the life you had with your departed fur baby and help you process the grief on your way to healing.
Paw and nose prints
Before your fur baby is gone, make a plaster paw or nose print which can be used as a mold to cast the paw or nose in metal. You can add the metal cast to any other memorial you set up or save the plaster cast as is to add to any other memorial you set up.
Save some fur
This is like cutting a lock of someone’s hair and is another tangible bit of our departed fur babies to keep with us.
Have your favorite picture of your fur baby put onto a pillow. I have done this when each of my precious fur babies has died and have found it comforting to be able to hug something tangible for the first few months after each of their deaths. You can go online to any number of pillow printing businesses, send the photo you want on the pillow, along with any verbiage, and approximately 2 weeks later, you will have your beautiful memorial pillow.
Cremation and urns
If you have your fur baby’s remains cremated, put them in a beautiful vase and drape her collar with tags around the vase. Don’t limit yourself to whatever box the remains come back to you in – use your imagination and put the remains in a container that reminds you of your pet, be it because of the color, style or material.
Pet cemetery and/or memorial plaque
If you decide not to cremate, you can bury your pet’s remains in a pet cemetery and set up a headstone or memorial plaque. Just as some people find it comforting to have a specific place to go to visit deceased human family members, you may opt to do the same for your departed fur babies.
If you had your pet cremated, scatter her ashes in some of her favorite places and invite others whom she loved to participate. This can give everyone a nice sense of closure with a literal enactment of “ashes to ashes”. It’s also nice to think of our fur babies around us in the places where they were happiest.
Plant a Tree and Set up a memorial bench
Pick a spot in your garden and plant a tree, vine or flowering bush in memory of your pet and set up a comfortable bench or chair in the spot so you can sit and commune with nature and remember your fur baby.
Set up a ‘shrine’ in your home with the urn/vase, your pet’s collar, pictures, any paw or nose cast you may have made, any fur you kept, her favorite toys and anything else you may want to have there to memorialize your pet, along with candles to burn in her honor.
Identification Tag Bling
Turn your pet’s identification tag into a pendent for you to wear around your neck, a charm for a bracelet or have a watch maker turn the tag into a watch face.
Go through the collection of pictures you have of your fur baby, pick out your favorites and put together a picture book to commemorate the great times you spent together.
Commission a painting
Commission a painting of your precious baby to add to your art collection. I’ve asked our very own Dave Johnson to paint ALL of my fur babies – current and departed – in one large collage painting. I will post the final product once he finishes it!
Volunteer at a local shelter
One of the best things you can do, both for yourself and to honor your departed fur baby, is volunteer at a local animal shelter, animal rescue group or animal welfare organization.
Rescue another fur baby
When you are emotionally ready – and ONLY then – and have fully grieved your departed fur baby, rescue another fur baby and give the two of you the chance to share the same beautiful life your shared with your other fur babies.
10 Beautiful Animal Memorials
Here are ten amazing memorials around the world to dogs, horses, Emily the Cow, Senator Capitol Kitty and even South African rhinos lost to poaching. Enjoy!
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