Many Artisan Shopping Directory members create pet memorial items and custom pet products, but the question of why someone would buy these comes up every now and then (generally from people who don’t have pets.)
Pet memorials are important because they acknowledge the emotional loss that the people who are left behind are feeling. They help validate the feeling of sadness and they give you something to remember the pet by. Just as a funeral for a person is for the people who loved the deceased, pet memorials are there to bring comfort to the pet owner.
When a family pet dies, it can be just as emotionally devastating as when a human member dies. That might sound ridiculous to people who don’t have pets, but it’s true.
The emotional loss that someone experiences with a death is going to vary based on the emotional connection they had with the deceased, whether they’re a human or a pet.
In addition, the passing of a pet is often the first experience with death that kids have, so it’s important to show that the memory of loved ones lives on, even if it’s “only” an animal.
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Why is it so hard to lose a pet?
The death of a pet is difficult because pets become part of the family, and we interact with them on a daily basis. We spend time with them and they’re part of our daily routines, so when one of them dies we’re left without their companionship and with a change in our daily lives that can be upsetting.
It’s also hard to lose a pet because society downplays the feelings of sadness that you have when your pet dies. This can make people feel guilty for being sad.
Along with the loss of your daily routine and companion, you’re left feeling like you shouldn’t be so sad about it, and that you should “get over it” and move on.
A lot of people will tell you to just get a new pet, but that isn’t always a good idea until you’re ready. Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows that they have their own personalities and it’s not like they’re interchangeable.
You should understand that it’s okay to grieve the loss of your pet, and that you’re not crazy or unreasonable for being sad.
Why do we grieve our pets?
Grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss, and the death of a pet can be a major loss. People are emotionally attached to their pets and when they’re suddenly not there, it’s natural to feel a deep sadness. Although people will say “It was just an animal,” that isn’t accurate, because many pets provide more emotional support and happiness than people do!
How people react to grief is individual and shouldn’t be made light of or brushed aside. People tend to downplay the loss of an animal because it’s not a person, but for many people their pets mean more to them than certain relatives they never see, or who aren’t nice to them, quite frankly.
It’s important to acknowledge that it’s difficult emotionally when someone loses a pet, and not try to “make them feel better” with pithy sayings about the pet being in a better place, bah blah blah. This doesn’t usually help anyone, especially kids, who aren’t going to understand abstract concepts, and who just miss their pet.
A lot of kids will get attached to a specific pet, or vice-versa, and when that pet dies the child will need extra emotional support. Having some kind of memorial for the pet can show the child that their feelings of sadness aren’t being ignored, and are totally normal.
We’ve always had cats, and when my son was born one of them took a real liking to him. She would sit on a ledge over his crib and we always referred to her as thinking he was her baby.
The cat had literally been there his entire life, and he never knew what it was like to not have her around.
My daughter was more bonded with our other cat, so each kid had “their” pet.
We had to put both of them to sleep in a fairly close timespan because they both developed kidney disease when they were older. While the kids were upset for both it was clear that they each missed their own cat a little more.
They also negotiated between them that they would each keep the specific urn that “their” pet’s ashes had been in as a little memorial. They seemed to understand without being told that it’s important to have a little memento of a pet they loved, which is exactly what a pet memorial is.
What kind of pet memorials are there?
There are many types of pet memorials, ranging from actual funeral services to small mementos that have the pet’s name or photo on them. Some things will feel like they’re too much, depending on the person, but each person will have their own idea of what they feel is appropriate. A memorial should be whatever you want to do to honor the memory of your pet.
Some options for pet memorials can include:
- Funeral or memorial services.
- Memorial stones for the garden.
- Photos of the pet set up in a memory box.
- Custom jewelry with the pet’s name or photo.
- Custom pet portraits.
- Home decor with a pet theme.
- Gifts themed with specific breeds.
- PIllows with the pet’s photo.
- Christmas ornaments.
- Donations to an animal charity.
- Creating a memory garden or planting a plant.
- Cremation urns.
- Shadow box for collars.
- Having jewelry made from fur or ashes.
Everyone will have a different level of what feels right for them. If your pet dies and you don’t want to have a full-blown funeral, but you’d like to make a keychain using their old collar tags, that’s perfectly fine. Do what makes you feel better, and don’t feel like you need to do more or less.
Pet memorials are important for the people who have lost their pets. It’s the same reason why a funeral for a person is important. It helps people to remember the pet, and to validate their feelings of loss and grief.
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