Preparing yourself in advance for the death of your pet, while emotionally taxing, is a wise and thoughtful thing to do. Certainly, none of us wants to think of that day, the day our heart will be broken into a million pieces. Thinking about this ahead of time will give you and your family the opportunity to discuss how you would like to memorialize your beloved pet and to celebrate the life that you all shared together.
There are numerous elements to think about regarding the death of your pet and your final wishes. Take this time to reflect upon what your pet will need in respectful death care treatment, as well as the support you will need as a grieving pet parent. Making sure that your beloved pet is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve will be of the utmost importance at this time. Knowing your various options will relieve much of the stress you may have in ensuring what you do is appropriate to not only honor the life of your pet but to make sure that they are receiving the care and treatment in death that was as important to you for them in life.
There are more options today than ever before to make an end-of-life plan for your pet if he or she is experiencing aged, chronic or terminal illness. Often times with acute and tragic losses we do not have time to make such plans but if we are afforded the time to make such plans you can consider the following questions to help make decisions ahead of time that make sense for your pet as well as you and your family emotionally, physically and financially.
- Palliative care until natural death or euthanasia?
- Who will help with end-of-life experience with intervention through euthanasia?
- In local veterinary office or in-home option?
- Who will be present during end-of-life experience?
- Burial or Cremation?
- Home Burial or at a local pet cemetery?
- For burial, will you want a casket to protect the pet’s body?
- If cremation, will you want the ashes returned?
- For cremation, is it important for you to have your pet’s body cremated privately in the crematory?
Many death care providers will provide a tracking system through the cremation process, a “tag” with a unique number that will accompany the pet’s body. To ensure the safety, security and authentication of the cremation process, inquiring on this part of your pet death care provider’s policy will give you the peace of mind in knowing about the care of your pet’s mortal remains.
Many families will also want to have that one last time to visit their pet after death, a visitation or wake, if you will. While this may seem like a trivial thing – or possibly something that you consider morbid and odd- this one last time with your pet is valuable time spent. A time to see your pet at peace. A time for your children to pay tribute by bringing in items that were special to your pet. A time to begin the grief journey and a time to say that final good-bye.
-Special readings and playing music
-Candle light tribute
-Planting a tree or flower garden
-Creating and sharing videos or photos on social media
-Make a Donation to a local shelter or pet loss organization
Making a decision on memorialization products is a personal process. This will be reflective of the life shared with your pet, your life style, your personal style, and those items that are reflective of your pet’s personality. It’s also important to take into consideration where your memorialization pieces will go in your home, or in your yard, and how you want the item to look, either blending in with your decor or making an individual statement. In addition, if you have a large pet family, consider a memorialization piece where all of the pets can be together.
-Locket jewelry for ashes and/or hair
-Jewelry of pet’s paw or nose print
-Artwork such as painting or photograph of pet