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Dealing with Pet Death: Planning a Pet Funeral

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

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You love him like a member of the family, in life and in death. When the sad day comes that your pet passes away, you want to give him the respectful tribute that he deserves. Memorializing your pet with a funeral provides the opportunity to remember happy times, honor your loved one, and say good-bye.

Pet burials and memorials have existed for a long time; records of them exist as far back as the B.C. years. In fact, according to National Geographic, the oldest known pet cat was found in a 9,500 year old grave on the island of Cyprus, buried with a human. As can be proven by the many elaborately mummified animals which have been recovered, ancient Egypt took the task of honoring their deceased pets very seriously.

Today we memorialize our pets with funerals, cremations, burials in cemeteries and backyards, taxidermy, and some owners even use cryogenics and cloning. Paw prints, hair clippings, memorial stones, and gemstones made from a pet's cremains are some other means of keep the memory of a pet alive.

The pet funeral is an honorable good-bye which can involve everyone who was a part of the deceased pet's life. It is a respectful way to mourn and remember. The pet funeral may be held in locations such as the privacy of one's yard, in a pet cemetery, at the location of the spreading of ashes, or at a funeral home. The funeral guests may choose to have the pet's body present in a casket, as cremains in an urn, or the funeral may be held after burial.

Pet funerals often include the sharing of fond memories of the deceased pet. Funeral guests may take turns telling stories of the pet's life. There may be a poem read at the service; "The Rainbow Bridge" is a popular pet memoriam. There may also be music played, pictures displayed, and candles burned. Often the remains are buried or ashes are scattered at the service. The pet's favorite toys, blankets, treats, etc. are often included with the body.

There is a large variety of pet caskets from which to choose, from biodegradable to durable. Caskets range from simple, cardboard to elaborate, wooden and metal. Caskets can be lined with beautiful materials and pillows or your pet's favorite blanket or bed.

Urns also come in a wide variety of styles. You can choose from wood, metal, cloth, ceramic, stone, and biodegradable materials. Urns are available in many shapes; some are designed to look like something other than an urn (such as a working clock urn, or an pet sculpture urn). There are also jewelry pieces, such as pendants, which hold a small amount of ashes. Families with children or artistic owners may choose a canvas urn which can written upon or painted.

Urns, caskets, and memorials can be purchased online, through a funeral home or crematorium, and from some veterinarians.

If you are considering planning a funeral for your pet, contact your local funeral homes and pet cemeteries for details. Not all funeral homes provide for pet memorial services. Your local pet cremation service may also be able to help with a funeral service. If you are thinking of burying your pet in yard, check local guidelines and rules to be sure the burial is legal.

As with humans, it is ideal, though difficult, to preplan for a pet memorial. Discuss your wishes for your pet with your family before you are going through the emotional pains of mourning your pet. This will ease the stresses of bereavement. Listed below are some things to consider regarding your pet's funeral.

  • Paw prints or hair clippings desired
  • Type of body care
  • Pet's favorite things to be buried or cremated with body
  • Location for pet's remains to rest
  • Funeral home, crematorium, cemetery, etc. services used
  • Urn, casket, or memorial stone to be used
  • Wording for memorial stone or urn/casket plaque
  • Type of memorial service
  • Guests for memorial service
  • Ideas for memorial services - music, pictures, speakers, poems, etc.



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