Our pets become family members, confidants and bonded companions. When we lose a pet to death, it can be as painful as loss of a human friend or family member. In recognition of the impact a pet's death has on human companions, and the need for people to deal with the loss of an animal companion, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries (IAPC) designated the second Sunday in September annually as National Pet Memorial Day, a day to remember a pet who's crossed the Rainbow Bridge and the day for you to celebrate his/her life on earth.
We lost our beloved black cat Ebony in in the summer of 2005. Her death caused my husband and me as much grief as the previous year's loss of a mother, a father and a newborn granddaughter. We created a special burial box and memorial stone for Ebony, and buried her in our garden near her favorite tree adjacent to the bird feeders.
The Humane Society of the US offer suggestions for managing the mourning process and celebrating the memory of your beloved pet. They suggest the following activities:
- Hold a memorial service at a pet cemetery, in your backyard, or in a place that was special to your animal companion.
- Add an inscription to your pet's gravestone.
- Find a special urn for your pet's ashes.
- Create a living memorial by planting a tree, bush, or flower bed in your yard.
- Contact a pet cemetery or community park to see if you can sponsor a bench or tree affixed with an acknowledgment plaque memorializing your pet.
- Frame a photo of your pet and put it in a special place.
- Keep your pet's favorite toy, collar, blanket, or bowl as a symbol of your pet.
- Create a scrapbook or collage with photos and other reminders of your pet.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter to help other pets.
- Participate in online memorials and candle-lighting ceremonies.
- Write a poem or story about your pet or write a letter to him.
- Offer a memorial scholarship at a veterinary school.
- When the time is right, adopt another pet from your local animal shelter or humane society.