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Dedicated to our beloved Remy, the gentle “Bear Dog”
Your beloved pet has died, and you are grieving. In my opinion, there are many helpful rituals in the grieving process that we go through for our human loved ones, that we can also do for pets. Our pets feel like family members, and we grieve them the same way. Your pet’s obituary may never make it to the local newspaper, but it can still provide an enormous amount of solace for you and any other family members or friends.
There is no right or wrong way to write an obituary for your pet. The goal is to put something down on paper – or computer – to memorialize your beloved animal, and your relationship. No memory is too small or insignificant; it is the tiny, intimate details that many people miss most. You can do this individually, or together with other family members or friends. You can do it a little at a time, or all at once. You can make your obituary as high tech (all computerized) or as low tech (handwritten) as you choose, but I do recommend that you print out a copy if you write something on the computer, so that you have something tangible and real, rather than solely virtual.
There is also no right or wrong time to write about your pet. Even if they died many years ago, it may still be helpful to write an obituary for them.
Here are some ideas of what to write about to get you started.
- Write out a list of your pet’s nicknames (possibly including how they came to be)
- How did you obtain your pet? Describe the first time you saw them.
- Who do they leave behind? Include family, any other animals, and friends.
- Did you know your pet as a puppy, kitten, or young animal? What was your pet like as a youngster, or when they first came to live with you?
- What were your pet’s favorite games, toys, and activities?
- What was your pet’s favorite food?
- What places did your pet travel to? What was their favorite place to visit?
- Where was your pet’s favorite place to sleep?
- What was your pet’s favorite time of year?
- What was your favorite part of your daily routine with your pet?
- Describe your pet’s personality, including good and bad qualities (i.e. sneaking food off the counters). What mischief did your pet get into?
- What were your favorite personality traits and quirks?
Once you have created something, here are some ideas for what to do with your pet obituary.
You can email your writing to friends and family, or post it online on social media to let people know about your loss. You may then wish to invite people to share their own memories of your pet. You can also send a copy to your veterinarian, groomer, pet store owner, doggie daycare provider, dog walker, or anyone else who has been a part of your pet’s life.
You can print out or create a copy of your obituary and put it somewhere in your home along with a picture of your pet, a candle, a favorite toy, and any other mementos to create a small shrine. If you choose, you can purchase special, decorative printer paper to print your words onto. You can frame a copy, or place one in a drawer, or with your pet’s ashes, if you have chosen to keep them. You can keep a copy with you, in your pocket or in your wallet or purse.
If you have children, you can give them each their own copy, and they can decide where they would like to keep it. They may choose to personalize their copy with drawings or additional words.
If you choose to make a donation in your pet’s memory, you may choose to include a copy of your pet’s obituary.
However you choose to share and keep your pet’s obituary, you will have created a special document to help preserve your precious memories of your beloved pet.
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