First of all, if you are reading this, you’ve probably either lost or are losing a furry friend. Please know I’m very sorry for your loss. It is never easy. Take solace in the fact that you gave them a great life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. My post today is dedicated to discussing a multitude of ways to commemorate your best friend.
Everyone is different. I know as I go through my own grieving process, I’m looking for ways to continue to keep Newton near and dear. We were a one dog family, we went from arranging our entire day around Newton to nothing. I was lost. In the beginning I don’t mind admitting that I was desperately searching for anything that I could hang on to. There are still days that I want to stay in my jammies, listen to some sad tunes and down a
bottle glass of vino. I’ve found a better way (for me). Most of you who follow my blog know I started working with the SPCA again after losing my best buddy. Being around dogs who need so much, allow me a new routine that makes me feel necessary again. They give me strength, love, laughter and a purpose when I felt I had little.
These are not ways to ease grief, only time can do that. Instead, when you’re ready, and are looking for a way to commemorate your furry friend – this list may be helpful. Find something that speaks to you, and represents your lost companion and your bond. It can be very therapeutic.
First of all ignore those people who say, “It’s just a dog”. Thoughtless words. In my opinion, they will never understand so do not waste your time with them. They do not belong in your process.
Commemoration – Let me count the ways
1. Write a Eulogy, it helps to think back and remember all the great times. Trust me, you’ll go back and re-read this.
2. Have a ceremony. We have yet to have ours, but it will be coming. I want to spread Newton’s ashes in his favorite places, and we have to wait until Spring in order to do this. I’ve been told it helps, especially little ones, with closure.
3. If your a writer, write a letter. I wrote and then shared mine here. If you’re an artist, paint. If you’re into music – write a song. Another blogger friend is having a ring designed to represent her pup and their bond. I thought that this was beautiful. Any form of expression is healthy.
4. Plant a tree. Most dogs love being outside. Plant something that is representative of them, that will bloom every year and give you a beautiful reminder. Some people even plant a flower, bush, tree or garden in a spot of significance. If you need a little inspiration, check out a blogger friend’s project – “Gardens for Goldens“. They’ve taken their project to a whole new level!
5. Store the memories somewhere, including photos, a favorite toy etc. I decided to make a picture book that has all photos of Newton, in all stages of life. I wanted a place that I could go back and remember all the good times. Further, I’ll be getting close friends and family members to sign it and include a favorite memory. I’ll be bringing this out on those sad, dark days. If a photo book isn’t your cup of tea, Modern dog magazine has some pretty exceptional ideas here. The blog, My wonderful life, has another list of unique ideas here.
6. If you know your pet is terminal or have little time together left, make a list. When we found out we were losing Newton, we made a list of everything we knew he loved. The vet thought we would only have less then a week left with him. If he was up to it, we wanted to try and fit everything he loves into this 6 day period. We were lucky, he was never in pain and he was able to do many of these things. It was a celebration of his life for 6 days.
My entire point, make your days all epic days.
If you all haven’t seen this wonderful video of a man who gives his dog, who has cancer, his last epic meal. It’s touching, and a real tear jerker. Amazing to watch if you’re able.
– Visit his best furry friends (if he’s feeling up to it).
– Visit original Grandmom (Breeder), with brother Richard and sister Livy (He loved it here)
– Eat a Christmas Turkey dinner, with gravy
– Eat a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, (He ate 4) I know he’s always wanted this…..
– Make a snowman for him to “kill”
– Cuddle as much as he wants.
– Invite Aunties and Uncles to visit – We invited and almost everyone came during one point or another over this 6 day period. It was a wonderful send off.
– Take one last hike as a family – Newton loved hiking. He was feeling weak so we never ended up finishing this one off. However we had more then enough family hikes throughout his life to remember.
7. During the time you would normally spend together, keep yourself busy. If you had a specific time that you would walk together, make sure to do something else. These can be the saddest times if you’re alone. Finding something else to do can make this easier.
8. Try something I call “Fur Therapy”. Whether it be visiting another cat or dog, boarding a friends fur-kid or volunteering at your nearest shelter, it can be extremely therapeutic. If you’re an animal lover, animals may be healing for you. I know this has worked amazingly well for me. I’ve also been boarding dogs on weekends for friends and family members and volunteering. It has given me a purpose.
9. Read Jon Katz’s book “Going Home“. He speaks about something called the “Good Life”. A wonderful notion which I think would give most solace. Read more on my review of this here. If you’d like a quick snapshot – here’s a excerpt from Going Home.
10. Read “Rainbow Bridge“. A beautiful piece of writing.
11. If you need, reach out to people who understand. There are a multitude of pet grieving groups. People who are in these groups will not judge, only listen.
12. Cry when you need to. There is nothing wrong with it.
13. Write a list of everything you learned from your companion. It’ll make you sad at first, but then extremely thankful they were ever a part of your life.
14. This one may be too early to mention, but I’m going to put it out there. When you’re ready, welcome a new furry friend into your lives. This is best way to celebrate a life. Practice everything your lost companion taught you. This could take a few months, or even a few years. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Grief does not have a time limit.
This is a difficult road to take. I hope you’ll find the above list helpful. If any of you have any other ideas, please comment below. I look forward to hearing about them and sharing them with others who are going through this terrible time.
I’ve gotten so many responses back from so many of you. It shocked me at first. The support many of you have shared, I’ll be forever grateful for. This process is the hardest part of being a pet owner. Know that you are not alone. We are lucky to have them in our lives at all, they always leave far too early. If you haven’t seen the link going around, check out A dog’s purpose: According to a 6 year old here. It’s a beautiful thought.
Grief is a powerful thing, do not lose yourself in it. There will come a time when you remember the great times, and tears do not fall every time. Until then, I hope some of the above helps.
Thanks for reading,
RIP dear friend