I have had many pets in my life. They have all been special and unique. I could write pages on all the ways my pets have enhanced my life. Unfortunately, most animals have shorter life spans than humans, which means I have lived through many deaths. Every time, it is gut wrenching. Pets are with us, every day, loving us unconditionally, and depending on us. The daily hole they leave in our life is huge.
When we do lose a pet, it is important to honor that pet and our grief. Everyone will do this in different ways. The method is not important, doing what feels right to you is. If you are creative, you might have already thought of ways to use your talent to memorialize your fur baby. However, if you are like me, you might need a little help to find that perfect method. I have put together a short list of possible options. Many of these would also work if you need to help someone else get over a loss.
If you had your pet cremated, you might want to keep their cremains in an urn, possibly storing it on a shelf or mantle where you can see it on a daily basis. For me, this was not personal enough. Besides, most of my pets loved the outdoors too much for me to be comfortable leaving them on a shelf inside. I found a couple of options that would allow me to keep them with me daily if I chose. They both only take a small portion of the cremains and you can spread the rest somewhere your pet loved to play.
1. Cremation Jewelry – This is a way to make sure your pet is always with you. The pendants are hollow, have a small hole for you to pour the ashes in, and then close with a screw-type closure. Many pendants are available in pet-themed shapes (dog bones, hearts with paw prints). If that is not your thing, there are pendants that will match any style. Some stores even offer rings or bracelets. If having ashes close is something that comforts you, this is a great option.
2. Created stones – If you love jewelry, another option is gems created from ashes. There are different types: crystals, glass stones, and diamonds. Each process uses a portion of the ashes to create the stone. There is a wide variety of price points and timelines for this option, but if a cremains pendant does not appeal, this is another way to keep your pet close.
If you have millions of photos of your pet, you might want to create a memorial using them. This could involve creating a scrapbook, or having a collection of framed photos on a wall. I fell in love with a couple of other options.
1. Custom Wall Mural – This might be a little extreme, but I still love this idea. If you are artistic, you could combine your many photos into a wall mural, or possibly create a larger-than-life image from that one perfect photo that captured your pet's personality. The best thing, they make it in removable materials. When the pain recedes, if you decide you went a little overboard, it can come down.
2. Keepsake box – For something a little less dramatic, but still beautiful, I recommend this wooden box. Made from reclaimed mountain beetle pine, the cover can be printed with either text (e.g. your pets name and years lived) or a photo. It is the perfect size to hold prints of your pet photos; keepsakes, like his collar and favorite toy; or a scrapbook. You could also use the box to hold your pet's ashes.
My last ideas are probably more for people who are consoling, rather than ones who have lost. I think a contribution to a local animal shelter in your friend's name is always a fantastic way to make something positive come from this situation. I found two other great options, especially if the deceased pet's owner is ecologically minded.
1. Plant a Tree – This program works under the supervision of the U.S. Forest service and helps reforest areas that have been devastated by fires. They will send a card telling how many trees will be planted and where they will be planted in the name of the pet. It also includes a lovely pewter charm on a waxed cord for a physical reminder.
2. Species Adoption through the World Wildlife Fund – How better to celebrate a special animal's life than by helping other animal species survive? This planet would be much poorer without these animals. There are many different options here, so you can tailor your gift to the person
Whatever method you use to help you through your grief, it should help you remember your living, loving pet. Focus on their life, not their death. Most animals live in the now. That is one of their gifts to us; they anchor us in the present. Grieve for a while, but remember that they would want you to move on.