They say that time heals everything. It doesn’t. You may always feel a sense of loss whenever you think of your beloved dead pet. However, over time, you do get used to the loss and learn to live with it. In the future, many pet owners are able to look back on their time with their pets and rejoice at how lucky they were to have such special beings in their lives.
Right now, you may not want to do anything. You need to keep on moving, in order to help you deal with your grief, and to carry on with the responsibilities you have in your life. Alternatively, you may feel terribly restless, as if you need to do something, anything because your pet has died. There are many creative and healing ways to deal with this energy. Here are some suggestions that we hope will help you get through this terrible time.
Let Yourself Cry
It may be hard to find someone who understands what you are going through. You may feel strange because people keep telling you to get over it. You need to ignore these people and just cry or feel sad when you need to. Whatever you feel is right. You do not have to live up to other people’s expectations about how you handle your sorrow.
Everyone takes their own time to deal with the grief over the loss of a pet. If you have anyone tell you that it was just a pet and that you should be over your grief by now, walk away from this person or hang up the phone. You do not need to explain yourself. Right now, if you want to cry, it’s perfectly okay to do so. You could contact your veterinarian for help with your grief. They take veterinarian reputation management courses to handle situations like this.
Making a Shrine
Shrines have been used for thousands of years in order to remember our beloved dead. Arguably, the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal, is both a tomb and a shrine to a dead wife. When Alexander the Great’s favorite warhorse, Bucephalus, died in battle at the age of 30, he founded a town at the place where the horse died. He named it Bucephala, after his horse.
You do not need to build another Taj Mahal or conquer a place to rename it in order to remember and celebrate a beloved pet. You may not have the energy to do a complicated project. You may want to arrange a small photo album, a webpage, or just place your pet’s final collar around a framed photo. You may want to simply put the urn next to funeral bouquets in a sunny, clean spot where you can see it often and remember.
Getting a Headstone
In many places, burying your pet is illegal, even if you are burying your pet on your own property. Many people choose to keep their pet’s cremated remains, so they can at least be with some part of their pet. Some people choose to be buried or cremated with those ashes. You can still get a pet headstone to commemorate your pet’s passing to keep in your home or in your yard.
There are many companies that specialize in making pet headstones. You can also ask local concrete businesses if they would take on the job. A concrete company makes headstones able to place a colored image of your pet in the stone, along with your pet’s name, birth and death dates, and a short epitaph.
Burying in a Pet Cemetery
There are many pet cemeteries in the world, particularly in North America and the UK. They look very much like cemeteries for people, but often the headstones are small. They are often surrounded by trees or gardens to create a calm sanctuary where you can grieve or talk aloud to your pet without anyone thinking you are crazy.
You can request your pet’s body from your veterinarian after your pet has died, or bury your pet’s ashes in a pet cemetery. You can find one near you with a Google search, or from asking your veterinarian or your vet’s staff. Your local funeral home or crematorium may even be able to help you.
Getting a Memorial Statue
In more and more yards across America, small statues of sitting dogs are gracing yards. There are other statues made for other species of pets. There are many companies that make statues of popular dog breeds out of precast concrete. You can place the last collar your dog ever wore around this statue.
You do not have to make a big or life-sized statue. If you look on Etsy or artisans that devote their craft to honoring beloved pets, you should be able to find artists who make shelf-sized or palm-sized statues of any species of pet. If you have any budding artists in your family, let them make a portrait for you. It may make them feel better doing something to make you feel better.
Making a Memorial Fence
You may have to fence off a memorial statue or headstone because some people may try to vandalize it. Contact a contractor about a fence around the statue or headstone. Some fence companies will accept any job, no matter how small.
If you already have a fence, or want to get a fence soon from a fence installer, dedicate a section of it to remember your pet. Think of when a famous person dies. Fans put flowers, cards, and other gifts to express their grief in or on the fence in front of the celebrity’s home. You can do the same with your pet. It is also a way to show the world that you are in grief, and so, perhaps, you will be left alone to grieve.
Commissioning a Portrait
Your pet was one of a kind, so why not commission a one-of-a-kind portrait of your pet? This does not have to be an oil painting. It can be in any medium, even a drawing. There are artists out there to fit any budget. Take your time finding the right one. Your friends, family, and veterinarian may even know of one already.
If choosing a photo for the artist to base the portrait on is too hard, ask your family to help you go through your photos to find just the right one. You may be surprised at how willing your family may be in trying to help you out in this time. They may not know how to handle your grief, but they certainly know how to go through photo albums.
Getting a T-shirt
Although getting a statue or painting of your pet is a wonderful way to memorialize him or her, it may not be within your budget right now. One way to get affordable art is by getting a T-shirt made of your pet. Choose your favorite picture of your pet. Think about what you want to say. Perhaps “forever in my heart” or a birth and death date. Perhaps you just want to have your pet’s name under the photo.
Go to any website that sells custom order birthday shirts. These sites will let you transfer your photo and any added words or graphics to your T-shirt. If you can’t bear to wear it, perhaps you could frame it. You could also make T-shirts for every member of the family that wants one, so you can all remember together.
Getting a Tattoo
A hundred years ago, anyone who had a tattoo was considered a degenerate, or somehow dangerous. Now, tattoos are an acceptable form of self-expression. Many people choose to get tattoos of their beloved dead, including dead pets. Celebrities that have tattoos of their dead pets include actress and singer Miley Cyrus, award-winning actor Orlando Bloom, and Grammy-award winning singer Pink.
Before you get a tattoo of your pet, talk to your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough for a tattoo. Remember that a photo of your pet will be more expensive to ink onto your skin than a name and a symbol like two entwined hearts. No matter what you choose, you will be able to have this work of art with you for the rest of your life.
Planting a Tree or Other Plant
Many people’s favorite book is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. In it, a tree gives all she has to help the boy she loves. Your pet was the same. Your pet asked for so little and gave so much. A tree helps wildlife in the area and makes the world more beautiful. Trees can also live on for hundreds of years. It can carry on when both you and your pet have passed away.
You can plant a tree in memory of your beloved pet. You can ask a mulch service about how to take care of a young tree. Young trees need to be watered for at least a year because it takes that much time for them to grow a good root system. You can also make a plaque to put at the base of the tree to honor your pet. If a tree is not appealing to you, try planting a rose bush, or another plant to honor your beloved companion.
Donating to a Pet Charity
If all of these projects seem to take too much effort while you are still in the depths of grief, there is one thing you can do that will only cost you a little in time and effort, and can fit whatever you can afford. You can donate to a pet charity. It can be a charity you already support, or a shelter you adopted your pet from, or an organization that works to cure whatever illness your pet had. It could even be a pet or animal charity chosen at random.
You don’t even have to donate money. If you still have unopened food or parasite prevention medication for your pet, these can be given away to your local pet shelter to help homeless pets. You can also donate other items your pet had, as long as they are in good condition. You can check what your shelter needs to find items in your home. Shelters usually need towels or blankets. Your pet’s memory can live on to help other pets.
Getting Another Pet
Some people deal with the loss of a pet by getting another pet. You may even be barraged with the question, “So, when are you getting another?” by well-meaning friends and family members. Getting another pet does keep you busy enough to keep you from dwelling on your loss. This can be a great way to celebrate your deceased pet by giving a home, and a life, to another.
However, this approach does not work for everyone. You may feel so torn from your loss that the thought of losing yet another pet is just too much. This is okay. You also need to take a hard look at your finances to see if you can afford another pet. Even small pets like hamsters need investment in proper housing, bedding, food, and toys. Take all the time you need to make a decision. Whatever you decide will be right. You can always change your mind.
It Doesn’t Get Better, But It Does Get Easier
It can be hard to find anyone you know that understands what you are going through. Finding a support group can help you share your grief. Ask your veterinarian or go online to search for such groups. Some people find that being anonymous on the web helps them to express what they really feel without fear of being thought insane.
You and your pet had a special bond. You need to celebrate it in order to get on with your life, even if your grief never fully goes away. You have people, and maybe other pets, that need you. Hopefully, by doing one of more of these activities to commemorate your beloved pet, you can do just that.