Remembering the good times that you shared with that pet can help counteract the guilt and grief that come with its loss.
One way to help yourself focus on those positive memories is to develop a memorial to your pet — a tribute or reminder that will actively help you access and concentrate on those recollections. Creating such a tribute can be an effective tool to help you cope with grief (though it may certainly produce a few tears in the process!), and it will also provide you with a loving reminder of that pet in the years to come.
There are many ways to memorialize a pet. Here are a few of the most popular:
1) Shop for a memorial item.
Believe it or not, shopping to be immensely therapeutic. Memorial paw print kit and frames are a lovely way to create a long-lasting memento for your special furry friend. This kit includes everything you need to create and display a clay imprint of your pet’s paw print. The no-mess, non-toxic white clay is 100% safe for pets.
2) Develop a photo tribute.
One way to do this is to choose an especially good photo of your pet and have it beautifully framed, and place it where it will bring you the most comfort. Another is to gather a collection of representative photos — i.e., photos of your pet engaged in different activities, and at different ages — and turn them into a collection or collage. For example, you can purchase mats with cutouts for as many as 20 photos (perhaps even more), and this provides a lovely way to display a collection. You can then put the matted collection in a nice frame, which will help preserve it.
3) Have a portrait painted.
Many pet portrait artists list their services in pet magazines; you may also find one in your local yellow pages. (You can also find such services online by searching under “pet portraits.”) Such artists generally work from photos (it being a bit difficult to persuade a pet to “sit” for a portrait).
All you need to do, therefore, is to find a good quality photo of your pet (preferably one that gives a good view of its face) and send or bring it to the artist. Many people consider a portrait that is an original work of art to be a better tribute to a pet than a photograph.
4) Create a craft tribute.
If you enjoy a particular type of art or craft, consider using that to memorialize your pet. For example, I’ve used needlepoint kits that resemble my pets to create tributes. You can also find services that will transfer your pet’s photo onto a needlepoint canvas, or create a canvas from a photo. If you have a knack for painting ceramics or plaster, consider painting a statue that resembles your pet.
5) Create a written tribute.
A written tribute can take just about any form: A poem to or about your pet, a letter to your pet (or even “from” your pet to you), an account of your pet’s life, or anything else that seems an effective way of expressing your feelings and memories. This could also be done as a family project, with each member contributing their own materials, which can then be assembled in a single volume that can be shared by all.
5) Post a tribute online. A number of sites offer this as a free service; you’ll find some of those listings in our links section. Because so many sites do offer this service at no cost, I do not recommend paying for this service — unless you feel that the site is sponsored by a worthy organization and your fee will directly contribute to that organization. Many sites also let you post a picture of your pet.