Honoring the Life of a Missing Pet
Though the passing of a pet can be difficult, it is no less painful to cope with a pet that has gone missing. Having a lost pet can be an agonizing process, oftentimes involving months of waiting, searching and posting dozens of fliers. However, when it is finally realized that your beloved animal is nowhere to be found, a new set of issues comes into play. Euthanizing a pet or allowing him or her to pass away peacefully at home provides the comfort of being able to lay the animal to rest—what’s more is that you were able to say goodbye. However, with a missing pet, the question remains: How does one approach a memorial?
Prior to any memorial planning, I strongly urge contacting local animal shelters to determine if they brought in any animals that match the description of your pet. Do not immediately turn into a fatalist, as there is a very real potential for your pet to be alive and well. If you do come to the conclusion that your missing pet is not returning, there are some beautiful ways to memorialize him or her.
I want to impress upon pet owners that a memorial, while sad, should be about celebrating the life of the pet. Do not feel embarrassed to conduct a service for a missing pet, because a loss is painful regardless of the circumstances. Think about the way you believe to be the most appropriate method of memorializing your pet. It is all a matter of personal preference.
Throughout my years as a funeral director and as a pet owner, I have seen people remember their pet through a variety of services, memorials and remembrance ceremonies. There are some wonderful options to consider that will truly allow you to capture the essence of your beloved pet.
I think one of the most beautiful ways to memorialize a pet is to plant a flower or tree. This is something that will grow and bloom as a constant reminder of your pet. Planting something contributes to the environment and honors your pet’s place in nature. You could even place a small stone or plaque with your pet’s name on it in front of the plant.
Look through your scrapbooks and picture albums to find photos of your pet. Select the one that you believe best represents him or her. It may be a photograph of your pet splashing through a lake or rolling over for a belly rub. Then, contact a local artist to paint a portrait of that photo and display it somewhere in your home where every visitor can see.
Maybe your pet’s bed was placed in the corner of the living room. Maybe you still have tags, toys or collars that belonged to your pet. No matter what remains of your missing pet, you can designate an area that will still be his or hers. Place personal items or pictures in that special area to commemorate your pet’s life and personality.
The Impact Loss Has on Other Pets
If you have other pets, they may show signs of distress if they maintained a close bond with the pet that is missing. The surviving pet may forego eating and drinking, show lack of energy and become completely sedentary. It is important to carefully watch for signs of depression in your other pets. You need to act positive around these animals and give them added attention to help them cope with the loss. If the behavior persists, see a veterinarian for other means or methods to help your remaining pets deal with the loss of their friend.
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