Losing a loyal four-legged family member is heartbreaking, but those memories are never truly lost. A good dog can change a life forever. Many owners have trouble finding a way to grieve the passing of a pet – especially when children or other family members are grieving as well.
This quick guide will suggest a few ideas for families looking to grieve the loss of a pet in a healthy and meaningful way.
1. Hold a Quiet Funeral
You do not need to hold a burial to have a nice quiet ceremony in remembrance of your dog. Many owners find peace by lighting a sky lantern and saying a kind word about their pet, very popular in families with small children. Others simply burn a candle and think about good memories. Some do hold a full burial or ash scattering ceremony and find an incredible sense of closure that way – we suggest investing in a personalized dog urn if you want something to keep with you. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to say goodbye to a beloved pooch.
2. Create a Memory Box
A memory box (sometimes called a shadow box) is a great way to keep all of those keepsakes and photographs safely in one place. Collars, tags, and toys are great examples. Many owners keep registration papers and newspaper clippings as well. You could get the whole family involved to make the process more personal. Collect and press flowers from your favorite walking path, have the children write down special memories and seal them up in the box.
3. Make a Difference for Dogs
The most long-lasting way to honor the memory of a loyal dog is to make life better for other great dogs – and the people who love them. Look for local animal shelters, rehabilitation centers, and canine therapy programs and ask about volunteer positions. You could even sponsor the training of a service dog to help somebody who needs one, or you could simply donate a bench to the local dog park or donate to a rescue foundation.
Sometimes the passing of a pet is a young child’s first experience with the subject of death. If this is the case for your family, there are several ways to make this experience positive instead of negative. There are many children’s books written to help children understand the passing of a pet, or your local church or counseling center might have a class you could attend as a family. If you do choose to read a book about dealing with the death of a pet, you could tuck the book into the memory box for the children to re-discover as adults.
The right solution will come to you in time. It is never too late to honor the memory of a pet that meant a lot to you and your family. In the meantime, you might find it helpful to connect with other pet owners who have gone through something similar. Many online forums and social networks have “In Memory Of” sections where grieving owners, trainers, and veterinarians can openly discuss the process of healing after a serious loss.
You do not have to do something fancy or spend a lot of money. Your furry family member never cared about ceremony or formality in life – love is all that matters to a loyal companion, and the memory of that love is the important thing.
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Crystal is a home maker and a part time blogger. She loves pet and is a proud owner of a pet cat, a pet dog and a pet parrot. Her love for the pets made her write this useful article for pet lovers.