‘Where there is deep grief, there was great love’ – anon.
Pets are heart-melting combinations of fur and love on legs. They bring joy, mischief and megadoses of laughter. Toileting accidents and chewed up shoes aside, their only fault is that they aren’t immortal. Anyone who has shared a close connection with an animal knows that it can be difficult to cope when your treasured pet leaves this world.
Here are 6 ways to find comfort in the tough times by cherishing the beautiful bond you both shared.
1. Reminisce About the Good Times
Celebrate your pet’s life with a special memorial service. It can be an informal gathering of friends and family who were part of your pet’s life coming together over a meal to share all the wonderful memories of your pet, all the stories and good times. Or perhaps, a more formal reading of poems, quotes and speeches feels right? Either way, chatting and reminiscing about everything you loved about your pet, their quirks and your favourite memories, can be cathartic and help you to remember your pet’s life as a beautiful whole.
2. Cathartic Crafts
If you’re like us, you’ll have hundreds of photos of your pet! Why not create a scrapbook, collage or beautiful photo book that represents them and their life? It will give you a keepsake and finished product to treasure forever and look back on in years to come. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to go through old photos you might not have seen for a while to help you remember and celebrate the good times. Another option might be to pick one or more of your favourite images and have them framed or canvased. Or you could commission a portrait of your special pet. Caroline from Perth Life Casting does some incredibly beautiful pieces that are worth checking out!
If your pet’s passing is planned, a lovely option is to get a paw casting or ink print done. Many pet crematoriums offer this as part of their service. But if not, it’s something you can research and do quite easily yourself.
3. Purchase a Beautiful Memorial Tribute
You might find comfort purchasing a physical tribute in your pet’s honour. Something to have in your day to day life after they’re gone. You could keep them close at heart wherever you go with a personalised pet loss necklace. A comfort bear to bring warmth and love when it’s needed, is a sweet idea. Or perhaps a personalised, hand poured candle to light at special moments in memory of your treasured pet or as part of a memorial shrine? We’ve created The Sunset Store, after realising that there weren’t enough beautiful and personalised gift options around for people going through pet loss. You can view our site and pet loss and love gifts here.
4. Write it Out
Even if writing isn’t your forte, sitting down to write and reflect on your pet’s life can be really helpful. You could pen a poem, a letter to your pet, an account of their life or anything that resonates with you as a way to express your thoughts and feelings. It could be an activity you do on your own or a family project where everyone contributes. Take a mental walk down memory lane and note the reasons you love your pet, what you’ll miss, what special things they did. What were their favourite treats, activities etc?
Pop it in a box or somewhere special or even have someone with lovely handwriting present it beautifully and have it framed. You could also post your tribute online. We have a section on our website dedicated specifically to this. It’s a place where people can post a picture and everlasting memorial for their special pet. You can submit yours here or read other memorials here.
If writing truly isn’t your thing, you might find comfort in reading the words of others who have experienced what you’re going through. Here’s a nice collection of pet loss quotes and poems that you may mind helpful.
5. Shadow Boxes and Loving Memory Shrines
Create a special box to fill with drawings or pictures of your pets, memories, lists, their favourite toys, or even their collar or a lock of hair. Create a special memory shrine that displays cherished items reminiscent of your pet. Things to include might be a Rainbow Bridge poem, their ink or cast paw print, a lock of their fur, their cremation urn, photographs or candles.
6. Contribute to the Cause
Did your pet pass due to a particular disease or condition? You might find it helpful to make a donation in your pet’s memory to an organisation that is seeking a cure for the condition or disease. Brooke, a past client of ours, is a beautiful example of this. Her boy, Dukey, passed after a short battle with an aggressive, rare form of cancer in 2016. Since his passing Brooke has started Dukey’s Cause to help raise awareness and funds for the Australian Animal Cancer Foundation. So far, they’ve raised over $20 000. Brooke says it has helped immensely with her grieving process and she takes a lot of joy in knowing that Dukey’s memory lives on.
We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful. If pet loss is something you’re really struggling with, we do have plenty of grief support options available and encourage you to get in touch to find out how we can help. There are also plenty of grief support networks available online where other animal lovers going through pet loss share their experiences and support one another. Above all, nothing loved is ever lost. We grieve because we love. Allow yourself to express your feelings and mourn your companion in whatever way is meaningful to you. There are plenty of options available to help you heal your heart. You’re never alone.