Question: Over the past year I have had a few families ask whether we handle pet cremations and assistance with pet loss. We really haven’t contemplated offering these services before but since families are asking for them we are re-thinking this possibility. What should we know about people who are suffering from the loss of a pet?
Dear Reader: The loss of a pet can hit people just as hard as the loss of a loved person — especially if they have not had any children or lived by themselves. Their grief can be very intense. Sometimes pet loss is more difficult because the animals could not speak and let their humans know what was wrong or what they needed. There can be guilt associated with the care of a pet just before their demise. When assisting people who have lost a beloved furry friend I would suggest you treat them with the same care and compassion you would an individual who has lost a human companion or family member. Besides the tips below you might want to consider putting an area on your website that addresses the issue of pet loss. (See French Funeral Home at www.frenchfuneralhome.com.) Feel free to copy and distribute these tips to your families, while of course, preserving our copy write.
When You Lose a Pet
The loss of a beloved pet companion can be just as hard for people as losing a human friend or family member. Sometimes pets are all the family that some people have had. There may have been a deep bond between human and pet and each truly loved and cherished each other. It is just as important to take care of yourself when a pet dies as when you lose a human family member – even more so because non pet owners might not understand your grief. Here are some things you should remember:
Eat, Drink & Sleep: Remember to eat healthy food, drink plenty of water and get some sleep. Even if you aren’t hungry make sure you eat something. Some people suggest keeping in your pantry products like Ensure that give you the nutrients you need. Drinking water keeps you hydrated. Soda pop and caffeinated drinks will dehydrate your body making you weaker. Grieving takes a ton of physical work. You need to give your body the energy to grieve. Sleep will help restore your body. If you are unable to sleep through the night, try to catch a short nap during the day or go for a walk before bedtime.
Honor Your Friend: Take the time to have some closure concerning your pet. You might want to consider a small memorial service. Some people have chosen to have a small memorial garden in their yard where the cremains are laid to rest. Others have chosen a scattering at the pet’s favorite spot such as a lake. Note if you are choosing not to cremate your friend and wish to do a ground burial instead, check with your local city government office to see if there are any laws or regulations about burying a pet on your property.
Talk about Your Loss: Talk about your loss to people who will listen. Other pet owners will understand the depth of your grief. If your town does not have a pet loss support group you might want to check the internet.