|We had a memorial "headstone" made for our garden, in memory of Hector.|
|Our "new" dog (at the time), Charlie, checking out the Hector memorial|
I can't say it enough: there is no timeline for grief. Your grief timeline is your own, and no one can or should dictate to you when you're supposed to "get over" it. You may never (get over it), and that is okay!
Here are five free (or inexpensive) activities you can do to remember and honor your pet on an anniversary, on their birthday, on YOUR birthday, or just because:
|Hobie's urn (left) and DogFather's urn (right). |
I took them on a trip to Cape Cod!
- Bring your pet's ashes on a road trip. After Hobie died, I brought his ashes in the car with me and Charlie and Cooper, every time we went to Cape Cod on weekends, for an entire summer. I told a friend about it, and we chuckled. A few months later, that same friend unfortunately had to put her dog to sleep due to a sudden and incurable illness. On a family trip to Maine, she brought her dog's ashes along for the ride! Don't have time for a vacation or trip? Bring your pet's ashes in the car on errands. I put the urn right next to me on the passenger seat, and look over at "him" and smile. I also bought a small stuffed dog that has the same coloring as Hobie (tan with a black snout), I put a doggie necklace around its neck (really, it’s a keychain!) and now “the new Hobie” rides in the car with me at all times. I may even tuck him into my suitcase the next time I have to travel by air! Now you try: Come up with other creative ways to "bring your dog along".
- Set up a web page, social media page, or other online tribute to your pet's memory. These days, there are too many of these online platforms to list. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Packdog.com, DogChannel.com , CatChannel.com, DogBook (which is part of Facebook), your own website, or blog, and more. There are tons of possibilities are out there. Find one and post a few words about your pet, with photos and their dates of birth and death. Not interested in an online platform, or not computer savvy enough? Grab a notebook or piece of paper, and write about your pet; find favorite photos and glue them into a scrapbook. Share your similar ideas in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.
- Attend an afternoon pet festival.
is the time of year for pet-charity festivals in most areas of the U.S.
For example, if I want to, I can attend one every weekend between
Labor Day and Halloween in my area of Massachusetts! Admission to some
of these events is free, while others charge a small fee ($12 - $15 or
thereabouts for adults, kids usually free, and well-behaved, leashed
dogs are usually welcome -- make sure you have proof of vaccinations if your state requires pets to be vaccinated). Ask local veterinarians or pet sitters if
they know of any events in your city, or just hunt around online via
search engines, you can usually find the various events easily. For those
who don't know what a pet festival is: generally these are events
held at a public place where vendors (mostly non-profit) set up booths and
you are expected to visit the booths and perhaps purchase goods or
services from those booths (but are not obligated to do so). There
is usually food, beverages, entertainment by local musicians, and fun activities
like costume contests, pet pageants, a photo booth, agility or police
"k9" demos, doggie massage or reiki, etc. Proceeds benefit the organization
that is running the program, or the various non-profit pet charities
involved. This is a great way to honor your pet, and get some "animal time" in with no strings attached. Be forewarned: there are pets for adoption at these events, so go slow, don't jump into anything hastily. "Just looking" is a good response, and then take the organization's business card if you want to visit them under less pressure at their facility. If you want more info on pet festivals, send me an email
at firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention your location and I'll try to find out if there
are any events near you.
Charlie at the Sweetpea Howl-oween event 2015
Charlie at a vendor's booth at Woofstock, 2015
Charlie and me at PetRock, 2015
- Spend quality time with your existing pets. Almost anyone I've ever talked to who has lost a pet has "The Regret List". This can be anything from "I should have had her euthanized sooner, she suffered so much", to "I wish I had taken her on that trip to the mountains two years ago when I had that opportunity." To (my personal regret) "I wish I had been able to stay home with him more often throughout his lifetime." There is no time like the present. Without getting yourself into trouble (spending too much money, or playing hooky from work!!) build in that time NOW with your existing pet or pets. Bring Fido to that mountain retreat you wish you had brought Rover to "back in the day". Now's your chance! Cuddle with your cat, Fluffy, on your lap and a good book or movie, because you wish you had "one more day" with Pookie. You do have that "one more day", and it's today, with your current pet(s).
- Help out a friend or relative with their pet. No pets at home, and you're not ready (maybe you will never be) to adopt a new companion? If your parent, sibling, or other relative, a friend, or a neighbor has a pet you enjoy spending time with, offer to hang out with the pet to help out, or just because you need some "animal time". This is a great way to resolve the "I need help getting through the loss of Max" problem without actually SAYING those words (because sometimes people do not understand).
|The finished product: The Hector garden memorial!|
Do you have other ideas or suggestions for ways to honor and remember your late pets? Tell me about it in comments, or drop me a few lines at email@example.com -- I’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: The suggestions on this website are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional advice. The contents of this website are solely the opinion of the website owner, and are not a substitute for therapy, advice, diagnosis, treatment of any kind, whether spiritual, medical, mental health, or other. If you are experiencing a mental health issue due to the loss of your pet (or for any other reason), please obtain the services of a professional. The owner of this website assumes no responsibility or liability on behalf of any purchaser or reader of the materials herein.