Losing a beloved pet is incredibly difficult on many levels. Many of our Krause Funeral Homes staff members know this pain firsthand. Whether a pet’s death is sudden and unexpected or you had time to say goodbye, the grief that follows is often intense and complex. After all, our pets become treasured members of the family. Their love is unconditional. They wait for us to come home at the end of the day. They are living proof of the good in the world.
This brings us back to when our therapy dog Oliver died in 2011. Oliver may have belonged to Krause Funeral Home President Mark Krause, his wife, Joan, and daughter, Nicole, but Oliver meant so much to so many beyond his immediate family. He found a special niche at the funeral home and his cheerful and calming demeanor brought many smiles over the years.
When Oliver died, we didn’t “just” lose a pet. We lost a source of comfort, companionship, and joy. While we were thrilled to welcome our grief therapy dog Bennie to the team, Oliver will never be forgotten.
Our pets’ lives are so short compared to our own, and we want to offer a few ways to remember them after they’re gone. In our experience, these ideas will provide healing to those who are mourning.
Hold a memorial service.
Keeping your pet’s memory alive is a very important step in the healing process. A memorial service is an opportunity to gather with those who mean the most to you and your pet, sharing stories and talking about why your pet was so important to you. You can hold the service anywhere you choose, at any place that reminds you of the special times you shared. Spending an hour or so paying tribute can bring a lot of comfort during these early stages of grief.
Remember your pet with a planting
A planting such as a tree, shrub, or flower is a beautiful way to honor a pet, signifying life and continued growth. You can make this especially personal by selecting a planting that reminds you of your pet. Did your dog enjoy lounging in the shade of an oak tree in your yard? Perhaps planting a similar tree will bring a smile to your face throughout the seasons. Did your cat have snowy white fur? You could plant calla lilies, daisies, or white tulips. Some even make a planter out of their pet’s water or food dish. These are simple ways to bring to mind warm memories, nurturing new life to honor the life that ended.
Collect items and photos to remember your pet’s unique personality
Do you have dozens of photos of your pet stored on your phone or printed out and tucked away with other paperwork? You can create a beautiful album that includes photos, stories, and quotes that memorialize times you never want to forget. Consider quotes like these:
“A dog can express more with his tail in minutes than his owner can express with his tongue in hours.”
– Author Unknown
“Everyone needs a dog to adore him, and a cat to bring him back to reality.” – Author Unknown
“My dog, she looks at me sometimes with that look, and I think maybe deep down inside she must know exactly how I feel. But then maybe she just wants the food off my plate.” – Author Unknown
You may also include a paw print, a clipping of fur, or even a customized sketch. Anything that helps you reflect on the life you shared together and look back with fondness at the pet who brought so much joy to your life.
Experiencing death is an inevitable part of pet ownership, but it’s never easy. If you’re having a hard time and could use a listening ear, or would like to meet Bennie, reach out to us anytime. We’re here for our Milwaukee friends and neighbors in every way – including following the loss of a beloved pet.