Having a pet funeral or pet memorial gathering when a pet passes away is a rite of passage. Milestone events are celebrated through rituals in every culture and society on earth. Rituals are powerful, symbolic traditions rich in history that make us note an important rite of passage like a wedding, graduation, birthday, birth of a child or death of a loved one. But why are these ceremonies so important and popular? Are there any benefits to honoring a beloved pet with a ceremony?
It may be more important than you think. Funerals and memorial services fulfill a primal need that help family, friends and whole societies publicly acknowledge the reality that a death has just occurred. Rituals help a person in shock to have a moment in time where they can contemplate; where they can reconcile their old reality with their new. These events gather friends and loved ones together in support and comfort to bond and share feelings. They allow the bereaved to be seen by family and friends; to know they are still there. They give time for everyone involved to acknowledge life has changed; and support will be needed in the coming weeks, months or years.
These are powerful enough reasons to acknowledge our bereaved friends & family when they just lost their pet. These are also powerful enough reasons to give yourself the opportunity to say goodbye properly, when you lose a pet you have loved and shared your life with. Getting ready to go forward in a new life without your beloved pet -- is enough reason to have your own pet funeral or pet memorial ceremony. In matters of the heart, pets are important family members and deserving of a dignified ceremony -- no matter how casual.
Your pet is someone you are going to miss. Someone ... not some-thing. When people deny themselves the chance to host a goodbye ritual for a beloved pet, they actually are doing more harm than good. Children are especially vulnerable.
A Man Who Didn't Get to Say Goodbye
Paul is a 47 year old man who still shares his feelings with friends about the childhood dog he lost when he was just 8 years old. One day after school, his mother told him that his best friend, his Yorkshire Terrier - Buddy, would never be coming home again. All he was told is that Buddy was taken to the Veterinarian's office and was "no longer with us." A piece of this unresolved trauma has held a painful part in Paul's heart his whole life, as have the unanswered questions - and hidden resentment toward his mother.
Well meaning parents try to protect their children from the reality that death is a part of life, often to the detriment of the child. Instead of embracing the loss and allowing children to participate in the activities surrounding the death, parents can unknowingly do damage to a child by sometimes by etching a permanent, unresolved memory they never forget. If Paul had been told the truth, and been offered up an opportunity to say goodbye in some form of ritual like a casual pet funeral or pet memorial gathering, his feelings and his memory of this tragic time would not be haunting him today.
Never underestimate the power of a ceremony
There is something beyond words that helps people heal and move forward. There is great comfort and peace knowing they seized the moment -- that they gave their beloved friend a proper goodbye -- and gave themselves a chance to grieve. Even though the pain is real, the situation is made better when there is a way to publicly say goodbye -- even if it is all by yourself in your own backyard, planting a tree or flowers -- or if you have a friend or family with you. It is not silly. It is very necessary to the deep understanding of loss the human psyche goes through.
Host a Pet Funeral or Pet Memorial Gathering
Creating a Good Memory Now Will Save Regret Later
Ritual activities mark the passage of a moment in time -- that will never come again.
Think about that.
There is only one chance to do the right thing while the shock of a loss is at an all time high emotionally. When the opportunity has passed, you can't get it back. What remains is something like what Paul experienced -- a bad memory that keep reliving itself some 40 years later and maybe for the rest of his life. It's unresolved in his heart. He didn't get to do what was right and he never forgot what that feels like. He has regrets. He has wishes he can't fulfill. In his case it isn't his fault. It's his mother's. Had her decision been different that day when her little boy was 8 and his dog died, he wouldn't have this extra burden.
Think of it this way. If you're reading this at a time that your pet has just passed away and you're hurting terribly, you have the opportunity right now to create a positive memory you can cling to time and time again -- for the rest of your life instead of wishing you had. Wishing equals regret. Regret is not a pleasant thing to live with. Your pet's final memory and you, deserve to give yourself this gift.
Creation of this positive memory is simply taking the step to walk through your loss by conducting your own private ceremony as the final part of your goodbye - whatever your choice of your pets disposition. When close friends or family join you it adds to your memorable experience, especially if they share a fond memory about your pet or just support you by being there in comfort. You may choose to bury your pet at home on your own property and use a solid pet casket, or if your pet is going to be cremated an brought home in a pet urn, you can hold a gathering at your home - indoors or outside.
You can hold a ceremony that costs no money. Some people have had real pet funerals at a funeral home with more elaborate festivities. Most people just need to find what they are comfortable with. Get the pet urn or pet casket or pod you need to hold your pet, whether you choose at home burial or cremation, and set a time to have your memorial service. Bring together family and friends if it feels right. When it comes to the deep bond you may have had with your pet, there is no substitute for taking the time in a special way to give testimony to the life they lived and the love you shared. You're future memories may depend on it.