Should you do a funeral or memorial service for your pet? Some kind of ceremony that recognizes the loss is a valuable undertaking, especially when children are involved. It provides a “teachable moment” regarding life and death.
However, you may want to keep it a small immediate family affair, with those who were closest to the pet. There are people who don’t hold animal death in the same regard as the end of a human life. They can brush aside your feelings with “It was just a dog” (or cat, goldfish, hamster, and so on) and do you serious emotional harm.
Many of the elements that provide comfort in a human funeral apply to a pet funeral. Here is a suggested outline for how to hold a pet funeral.
Recognize Reality: Acknowledge that the pet has died, talk about how it came into the family, lived a good life and was loved by those gathered around.
Remember: Share stories about the pet’s antics or personality traits, actions undertaken on the pet’s behalf, and treasured memories. You might gather photos, toys, and other memorabilia related to the pet.
Reaffirm Beliefs: If you believe your pet has gone to a better place, say so. If you believe you will be reunited with your pet when you leave this world, say so. If you believe the love of an animal companion is a valuable thing, say so.
Release: Close by gently saying goodbye. Cover the grave with earth and set any memorial marker or tributes in place.
A helpful e-book about grieving the loss of a pet is available at my website, AGoodGoodbye.com.