Meaningful ways to overcome the loss of your beloved pet.
Tracie Bluse Ward
We have all been there and can speak from personal experience – the loss of a beloved pet is one of the saddest, most difficult times in our lives. For many of us pet lovers, losing a pet can be as heartbreaking as losing a person whom we have shared a close relationship.
The grief felt from losing a favorite pet can be overwhelming, and in some cases even lead to depression. While there are no simple solutions to help us overcome these very real emotions, there are some proven techniques to help us lessen the pain, and in time, to prepare us to eventually move forward.
The first technique my brother’s family turned to when they lost their sweet Marshall was to write a story about their beloved pet. The short storybook helped them not only deal with their grief and loss, but the story captured and preserved their fondest memories forever. Creating a memorial book or story is especially helpful when children are involved as it gives them an outlet to express their feelings by sharing their favorite pet experiences and even drawing or coloring pictures to illustrate the story. The family also gains an opportunity to spend quality time together reflecting, hugging, and supporting each other as they work through their difficult and individual emotions during the grieving process. Another benefit comes from the actual book which serves as a visible reminder of the beloved pet while offering comfort every time the story is shared.
Creating Your Pet Memorial Book
Here are a few memorial book creation tips from our pet story writing team:
• Give yourself and each family member time to grieve in your own special way. It’s okay to be sad or even to feel somewhat angry about the loss of your best pet friend.
• After a couple of weeks, or sometimes a longer period of time is needed, when the pain of losing your pet is a bit less intense, start a conversation with family or friends to reflect and remember your pet.
• Begin the conversation with, “I remember when…” and share a few funny or favorite stories about your pet. Record or write down the stories as you proceed. Always try to end on a high note.
• You may need more than one session to gather the information to complete your memorial book. Don’t feel rushed as the reflecting and writing process is therapeutic in itself.
• Next gather photos or hand-crafted pictures to illustrate the stories you shared.
• Either hand write or type the story using descriptive sentences that feature the best highlights of your relationship with your pet. A typical pet story includes 10-25 paragraphs or pages.
• Add the photos or drawings to each paragraph and place them on a page in the book.
• Preserve your story in a scrapbook, journal book or hardcover book.
• Keep your finished memorial out for you to reflect, enjoy, and share whenever you feel the need. This tangible reminder of all of the wonderful experiences you shared with your pet can be very comforting.
If you would like help with your pet memorial book, go directly to MyBPFF and our pet writers will guide you through the questions that provide the content for your pet story. They will also add your photos or drawings in a professionally-designed format, then write and publish a beautiful 8×8 inch hardcover memorial book (or a story print to be displayed on your wall) for you to cherish forever. Or send a gift card and personalized message to help a friend overcome the loss of their pet when they are ready. All are available at MyBPFF.com.
Creating Your Pet Memorial Service
The second technique that helped my brother’s family after the loss of their dear Marshall also helped them find closure so they could begin to move forward with the comfort of family and friends around them. They decided to hold a memorial service at Marshall’s favorite place in their yard while sharing the story they created a couple of weeks earlier. At the end of the service they buried Marshall’s ashes with a newly planted tree that represented life and the future. If you do not have access to a private yard, you could hold your service at a park or along your pet’s favorite walking path. However, be mindful that you cannot leave a memorial or plant a tree on property that you do not own without permission.
Here are some helpful tips to personalize your memorial service.
- Talk with family or friends about ideas for your pet’s memorial service and jot them down.
- Start the conversation by asking, “Where did (pet’s name) ______ like to play or rest or where was he/she the happiest?”
- Once you determine a location where you will hold your service, decide who you should invite by focusing on people and perhaps other pets that best knew and loved your pet. Often the guest list includes only immediate family members or very close friends as this can be an emotional time.
- Decide if you will be bringing your pet’s ashes to bury or sprinkle at the memorial site or if you will need a burial plot. It is important to know and respect the requirements of your community or location as pet burials are generally restricted to designated pet cemeteries.
- Determine if you would like to mark your memorial site with a visual reminder (only if it is your property or if you have permission to leave a lasting memorial in a park or someone’s yard). Some examples include planting a tree or bush, leaving a memorial plaque or stone with your pet’s name, or using a natural landmark like a large boulder or lake to mark your pet’s special resting place.
- Ask a friend to read your pet story and share the photos or illustrations during the service as you may become too emotional to read it yourself.
- At the end of your service, ask if anyone would like to share additional memories, and then say your final farewells to your dear pet.
- Visit your memorial site as often as needed to seek comfort and to remember your beloved pet.
A beautiful example of a pet memorial book and service can be viewed on this week’s Sharing with Sydney video: Marshall’s Story and Memorial Service.
We know how real and difficult pet grief is for so many pet lovers. May these suggestions and this video help you find comfort and support in your time of loss.
Our deepest condolences and warm, fuzzy hugs as you find a meaningful way to remember your best pet friend forever.
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