Our pets are often part of the family. They bring us joy and comfort, offering unconditional love and support whenever we need it. The death of a pet can be a huge loss, and many people grieve their pets as they would any other loved one. Holding a pet funeral can bring closure and comfort, allowing you to say goodbye and honor the memory of your faithful friend.
A pet funeral doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. You could hold a simple cat funeral in the backyard with immediate family only. Alternately, if your dog loved the park and made lots of friends, holding a larger dog funeral and memorial service could allow everyone who knew your furry friend to come and share their memories. There are no firm guidelines that you have to stick to, so you should organize a memorial service that you feel will bring you the most comfort.
Family Burial Services
If you plan on burying your pet, either at home or in a pet cemetery, then you may want a graveside pet funeral service. Your family may gather around the burial plot and share memories of your departed friend. The Rainbow Bridge, a poem about where pets go after death, is a popular choice of reading, and you may choose to play music. Many pet cemeteries will help you plan and schedule the funeral, along with providing a chapel or other location in which to hold the service, if you so choose.
It’s not necessary to hold the funeral before the burial, and you may prefer to hold a graveside service after your pet has been interred. If you are burying the pet yourself, it may be easier to wait until you’ve filled in the grave before inviting the family to gather and share prayers, poems, and memories.
A family burial service can also be held if you’ve had your cat or dog cremated. You may choose to hold a service in which you scatter the ashes in an area of your yard or in a park or other location. Many people find that holding the pet funeral in a location that their pet loved to be a great way to honor their memory. If you do plan to scatter your pet’s ashes in a public place, be considerate of others and don’t leave the cremains where they can be found or easily identified. It’s a good idea to ask a park ranger or your city’s parks department about their rules and guidelines for scattering ashes.
Pet Funerals with Children
Most pet funerals are not too formal, and this is a great opportunity for children to express their feelings and to encourage them to remember the good times they shared with their pet. Encourage your child or children to be involved in planning and organizing the event. This will help them feel like they are part of the process and have some control over what’s happening. It may also help make saying goodbye a little easier.
Let your child help choose a casket or shroud for your pet. You may want a formal pet casket, especially if your pet will be buried in a cemetery. You can also ask your child to lead the service, or to give a eulogy focused on the happy memories.
It’s important to acknowledge your child’s feelings, even if they seem to be stronger than you expect. For most children, the loss of a pet is their first experience with death, and even the death of a goldfish may be difficult. If your child is sad and doesn’t want to speak at the funeral, that’s OK. Like everyone else, children grieve in different ways. You should encourage your child to be part of the process, but don’t push.
Pet Memorial Services
You may also want to hold a pet funeral or memorial service with more people than just your family, especially in cases where your pet was well known to your friends, the gang at the dog park, or others. The nature of this service can be somber or celebratory, depending on what you would prefer. It’s often said that funerals are for the living, and pet funerals are no different.
If your feline friend was an outside cat who loved to roam the neighborhood, you could invite the neighbors to your cat funeral. You might be surprised by the stories you hear and the adventures your pet got into when you weren’t around.
For a dog funeral, you might invite family, close friends, and everyone from the dog park to a big pot luck. Invite everyone to bring a dessert or other dish, then celebrate the life of your dog. At some point during the gathering, you ask for a few minutes of silence so that everyone can honor your departed companion. Encourage each person to talk about how your dog was special.
During the pet funeral, you may want to install a special memorial to your pet. Some people choose to plant flowers or a tree over the grave, with others install a stone memorial or marker in their yards. If you had your pet cremated, you may want to set up a small memorial in your home and include photos, favorite toys, and other keepsakes. This way, your pet will be with you always.
Why Hold a Pet Funeral?
For many people, a pet funeral is an opportunity for closure. It’s often difficult to accept a pet’s death, and even harder to move past it. A funeral gives you a chance to say goodbye and to fully express your grief while surrounded by others who share your loss. Having family members and friends around you and offering their support may be a first step toward healing.