When a pet dies, and we feel like the world has crushed us, some of us might think that we’re acting strange or weird. The words “It’s just a dog” may sound in our heads, forcing us to pull ourselves together and suppress our grief. But there’s nothing strange or abnormal about your feelings at all. Losing a pet can indeed be more painful than losing a human loved one.
Research, in fact, has confirmed that. So people who say that a pet’s death is no big deal have probably never loved a pet yet. They haven’t experienced the amazing interspecies bond between a dog, cat, or any other pet, and a human. That bond is more than just an owner-and-pet one, but something as close to a parent-and-child bond.
Hence, losing a pet can make us grieve for a long period, years, even. Some people advise getting a new pet as soon as possible to get over the loss, but that’s not as easy as they think. A new pet may ease our loneliness, but it won’t heal our pain nor fill the hole left behind by our departed pet.
So don’t be pressured to get a new pet immediately. Allow yourself to grieve, but commemorate your departed pet to fill yourself with happy memories.
Ways to Commemorate a Deceased Pet
1. Hold a Funeral
Forget about the people who think pet funerals are for the overacting. You are your pet’s family, so holding a funeral for them is a way to pay your last respects to them. Besides, military canines are given a funeral, too, so why can’t household pets have one? If it feels right for you, don’t hesitate to say your farewells to them with an elaborate ceremony.
2. Create a Memorial
If your pet loved a certain spot in your garden, for example, you can bury them in that spot and plant a tree over it. That would be their memorial tree, something that can give you comfort when you’re thinking of them. Photo albums or galleries also make great memorials. Consider what makes you think of your pet the most or something that had made them happy, and that’ll be the best memorial.
3. Let Your Kids Grieve With You
Kids and pets make great friends, and your kids can grieve the death of your pet more than you do. If that’s your situation, allow yourself and your child to grieve, and let them be involved in the funeral or memorial creation. Surely, your kid holds precious memories with your pet, no matter how young they are. If your pet has died because of euthanasia, be honest about it. Let your child understand that euthanasia can be a gift to a very sick pet. Ideally, you should tell your kid about euthanasia before it happens so that they can say goodbye to their pet before they pass. It will be heartbreaking and possibly traumatizing for a child, though, so take note of that and consider taking them to a therapist if they’re not able to move on from experience.
4. Seek Professional Help
Speaking of therapy, you might need to have it, too. Persistent grief interferes with your daily life, even with the process of commemorating your departed pet. If your loss renders you unable to do anything, even to say goodbye to your pet or create a memento for them, you might be spiraling into depression, which will only get worse in time. If this situation applies to you, try to get treated first, and you’d be more motivated to commemorate your departed pet.
5. Consider Taxidermy or Freeze-drying
It may seem strange or even a bit creepy to think about sleeping beside a dead pet, but for some people, that’s the only way to ease their grief. You can now preserve your departed pet’s body if you’re reluctant to bury or cremate them. Taxidermy (a.k.a. stuffing) or freeze-drying are your options.
Professional pet taxidermists understand the pain of losing a pet. They preserve your dog’s, cat’s, or even your horse’s body in its exact appearance so that you can still stroke or cuddle them as they are. Freeze-drying is a different process but delivers the same results, allowing you to stay with your departed pet forever.
Some people might think you crazy for choosing to preserve your departed pet’s body, but if it feels right for you, no one should have a say about it. Besides, a preserved body makes the ultimate memento. With their body curled up or seated in their usual spots, your days can feel more normal, even if your pet’s soul has crossed the rainbow bridge already.
During your grieving period, remember to take care of yourself as well. If your pet can see you from heaven, they’ll surely prefer it if you’re smiling. So if not for yourself, then be strong for your departed pet at least, and for the other loved ones they left behind, like your family.