When It's Time to Say Goodbye to a Beloved Pet
Suggestions for dealing with the loss of a pet.
For most pet owners, their pets are not just animals — they’re valued companions and members of the family, providers of unconditional love. When a beloved pet dies, the grief is real. It’s important to mourn the loss of that family member and to acknowledge it in a meaningful way.
The death of a pet requires some decision-making. For example, many families choose the time-honored tradition of burying their pets in the back yard. But for those who don’t have or like the option of a yard burial, a pet cemetery or crematory may be a better choice.
Growing up in a small town, my family always buried our pets in the yard; in fact, my parents created an actual pet cemetery, complete with headstones (made by my dad with concrete and bricks), in a separate area above their garden. Today, though, I have a fairly small yard and some concerns about where water pipes and gas lines are located — digging holes is probably not my best choice. So, we made the decision several years ago to have family pets cremated when they die.
When our dog Gracie died recently, it was important to us that she be treated with care and respect. I called on Deceased Pet Care, a company that specializes in end-of-life services for pets, to handle the cremation. Because it’s a specialized service, we knew that this final act of love for our pet would be carried out in a dignified manner. That assurance was a great comfort to us.
It may also be comforting for some owners to honor their pet’s life with a service or celebration. Gina Alexander, a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who helps people celebrate important life events through specialized ceremonies and rituals, says she has encountered many people who are struggling with their grief over a pet but haven’t truly acknowledged their loss.
“What we lack in our culture is acknowledgment of the grieving process. But grief, if it goes unacknowledged, often manifests itself in other ways, such as physical pain,” she explains. “I think it’s so important to acknowledge the life of a pet that we stewarded as their human caretakers. They are absolutely family members.”
There are several pet crematories and cemeteries in the metro Atlanta area that offer a variety of products and services similar to those provided by funeral homes when a human family member passes away. From a selection of caskets and urns to funeral services and grief support, you can expect to find the attention to detail and care that you want for your beloved pet and your family.
A quick online search will yield many resources for helping your family handle the loss of a pet. Here are a few:
Deceased Pet Care
Dream Land Pet Memorial Center
Paws, Whiskers & Wags
Gina Alexander, Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant
www.artoflifeceremonies.com (click on the “Pet Memorial” tab)