Contributed by: Jamie Dalzell, freelance writer at www.realitycopywriting.com
As with the passing of a family member or friend, the loss of a pet can be a difficult time, because for many, a pet is another member of the family. Moving on from the loss of a pet, then, can be difficult, often fraught with the fear that to move on is to forget them altogether.
The loss of our little furry, scaly or feathered friends is a time of tears and heartache, but it can also be a time for celebrating their impact on our lives, and the lovable characters they were. To have had their affection in our lives is a huge honor, and there’s a number of respectful ways to, in turn, honor their lives when they’re no longer with us.
Whether yours was a cat who had a knack for selfies, or a dog who loved sharing their dinnertime antics on Facebook, we all have more than a few photos of our pets. An unhealthy amount, some might say, but then they’ve obviously never had pets themselves!
Some will be of personal moments, some for sharing (or oversharing. Guilty!) on social media, others just plain fun, and all of them are equally brilliant ways to remember our pets: perfect snapshots in time that remind us of fun days or funny moments.
Creating a video tribute from some of these snaps and clips is a great way to remember our pets past and present, and while there are professional services that offer this, there are many free programs available that let you do this yourself.
This also works well as a family project, getting the kids involved and having each family member pick out a few of their favorite shots to add to the video. Sharing your grief with those close to you is a fantastic way to work through this difficult time, especially for younger members of the family, and it provides the perfect opportunity to reminisce on the good times. And at the end? You’ll have a heartfelt, personal video you can share of those funny, quirky, goofball moments that made us fall in love with them in the first place.
Here's a great example of what you can do with a video – "Tribute to Rex," created by Meagan Maue:
(professional photos by Sarah Beth Photography)
Going digital is great, but for some it can feel impersonal, especially when dealing with the loss of a pet. For those who prefer to remember in a physical, tangible way, there are many touching alternatives.
Joy Session is one, providing a wonderful service that puts photographers in touch with those wanting a set of snaps that will celebrate a life and last a lifetime. Of course, there’s also a budding photographer in all of us, and there are more than a few uses for those snaps that fill our smartphones.
You could turn these into a calendar of some of your pet’s funniest moments, remembering them year-round and replacing those tears with much-needed laughter. Alternatively, pick out some favorites and have fun putting together a themed photo book with the family. Perhaps a collection of your great days out, or your dog’s journey from pup to loyal pet?
Taking it one step further, you could turn this into a scrapbook of sorts, combining pictures with some of your pet’s favorite toys, leads and leashes. A textured, personal reminder of who they were. And whichever path you pursue, getting caught up in a creative project like this is a great way to focus your attention elsewhere, while simultaneously working through your grief.
A Pet In Need Is A Worthy Cause Indeed
What better way to celebrate your pet than with an actual celebration? Grief doesn’t have to be a solo act. In fact, talking through your loss with other people can help the grieving process immensely.
So look into local shelters and organizations that support pets in need, get in touch, and see if they’re interested in holding an open day or event. There’s no better way to make your pet proud than to do something for those animals still with us that are doing it tough.
Places like the ASPCA provide brilliant resources on finding pets to adopt, and shelters you can donate your time or money to, or hold an event. These could be in the form of a fundraising day, a walk with local dog owners, or simply a way to bring people together to offer their time. Either way, those pets will be thankful for it, and you’ll know that your loss isn’t just a sad occasion, but has inspired something good.
A Little Love Goes A Long Way
At the end of the day, nothing can replace our pets. Each and every one is as different as the next, and their impression on our lives is a nuanced thing. Special. Personal. And wholly unique. There’ll never be one like them, and attempting to find one will only make the loss that much more difficult.
Still, the love you had for them can be extended, and looking into local adoption agencies is such a rewarding experience that will brighten a new pet’s life as much as your pet brightened yours. All at once you’ll be giving them a safe and loving home, taking a vital step forward in dealing with your loss, and honoring the pets that have come before.