More than 40 years ago, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories created National Pet Memorial Day, held on the second Sunday in September, to honor pets both past and present. Pets, in their many shapes, forms, and personalities, undoubtedly and significantly impact our lives and hearts. To celebrate these wonderful furry family members after their passing, we can pay tribute to them in a number of ways. Here are a few:
- Ashes. A number of sites offer an impressive array of urns, boxes, and other containers, including jewelry in which your pet’s remains can be stored and cherished.
- Photos. Take a particularly memorable or professional photo of your pet, have it framed, and place it where it will bring you comfort. Showcase a collection of representative photos (pets doing different activities, at different ages, at special locations, etc.) in a scrapbook, collage, or matted collection.
- Portrait. Get your pet’s portrait painted! Often pet portrait artists work off a good photograph, so this ties in nicely with #2.
- Get crafty. Ideas: transferring a pet’s photo onto a needlepoint canvas or painting ceramics.
- Write it down. You compose a poem, a letter (to your pet or “from” your pet), a chronicle of your pet’s life, or a written family project. The point is to express your feelings and memories of your furry companion.
- Cyberspace. You can post your tribute online. A number of sites offer this service for free too. On social media, you can share photos, written tributes, and your memories. Use the hashtag #NationalPetMemorialDay.
- Plant a tree or shrub. For example, Treegivers offers the service of planting a tree in your pet’s name. You can also plant a tree or special plant, like catnip, in a memorial garden or city park.
When Nala and Boudicca passed, I had their ashes placed in a nice box and set their collars on top of the boxes. I put Nala’s box in the living room overlooking her usual spot while I put Boudicca’s box on a shelf in my office overlooking her office supurrviser spot (her bed). I also have a bit of Queen B’s fur in a sachet.
Listed above are only a handful of ways you can remember your beloved pet. There are many more specialized ways of doing this. For example, my mother made a lovely memorial collage quilt composed of the bandannas the Schnauzers received after they were groomed. Be creative! For more information, check out tips from Pet Loss, the Dog People, UF’s Small Animal Hospital, and the Huffington Post.
How have you memorialized your pets? How do you celebrate and remember your pets past and present? Share in the comments!
Losing a pet is the saddest part of pet ownership. Mourning the loss of a pet and dealing with grief is indeed a process, sometimes a very painful one. Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day is a way to cherish and celebrate the memory of the beloved pets we’ve lost and to continue healing.
Queen Boudicca Mata Hari Sophia (circa May 2000-May 25, 2018). For 18 years, she was my cat-dog, googly girl, reading buddy, and dedicated office supurrviser. I miss my darling Queen B.
Princess Nala Artemis Fae (circa April 2001-January 21, 2017). She was my bottle baby and windfall kitten. In the last few years of her life, Nala ultimately chose Aaron as her Chosen person (in her mind he became HER boyfriend) and, accordingly (in her eyes), I was demoted to pet status .
This is Pelota. My parents opened their home to this lovely Ragamuffin rescue in 2010. Her original name was Trixie but we quickly renamed her Pelota (Spanish for “ball”). She was incredibly docile and a thoroughly sweet, affectionate cat. Her soft belly was never a trap! Sadly, in 2012 she passed away at the age of 10 from a rare condition, a spinal cord embolism.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day:
- Take time to enjoy memories of your late pet. Look through pictures and videos.
- Talk about your pets, both current and past. Remember the little things that made you smile. Record them in a journal or on social media if you wish.
- Thinking about getting a new pet after losing one? Consider a visit to your local animal shelter or animal rescue group if you feel ready. Volunteering or fostering may help you adjust.
- Use #RainbowBridgeRemembranceDay to share on social media.
How do you remember your pets that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge? Share your stories in the comments.
I took Boudicca to the vet this morning for a checkup. As usual, there was a lot of concerned meowing followed by purring and starfish paws the minute the techs and the vet petted her. In less than three minutes after returning home, Boudicca has passed out on the window seat. Obviously being intensely concerned and petted by a nice vet is quite exhausting.
One of the amusing quirks about Boudicca is that sometimes she would channel her inner Maleficent but only in appearance. Her eyes would go green, and she’d regally recline with this smug expression, as though pondering her plan to take over the world. Of course, she may have been plotting to enact nefarious plans…as soon as she finished her nap.
Rest in peace, Queen B. I love and miss you.
I wrote this anecdote one year ago. I want to continue sharing these stories about Boudicca and Nala as a way of remembering and celebrating their lives.
Whenever I come home, this is the reception I get:
Boudicca: *previously sound asleep the entire time I was gone, wakes up when I come in through the door* Mama! Mama! Why did you leave me? Mama! Love me, pet me, pick me up! Feed me! Is it lap time yet?
Me: No, Boudicca. It’s time to put away groceries.
Boudicca: Mama! Why are you not in your office? I’m quite concerned when you are in a different room than me. Is it lap time yet?
Me: *picks up 10 lb Slinky cat* Forgive me now?
Boudicca: Oh my person loves me. PURR. PURR. PURR. *goes googly and kneads in the air*
Two minutes later, Boudicca has passed out again. She has such a hard life, obviously.
Boudicca has still not realized that she is not a dog.