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Why creating cat or dog memorials is therapeutic

After humans pass away - we have wakes, memorial services and funerals to honor the person who has passed on. We do this to show love and respect to the individual we once knew and also to give compassion, love and kindness to the family members of the loved one. But when it comes to pets, this is uncommon. I hope this changes because pets are increasingly being recognized as family. And all family members deserve love and respect, even in the end. 

Creating an online memorial has many benefits for you and your beloved pet. I will share from my personal experience and share from a client who also created a memorial on Petminni…

After Chilly passed away, I was devastated. As I write this today, it’s been 5 months and I am still very sad over his loss. I felt he deserved a memorial service and funeral. Everyone who knows us also knew Chilly. I wanted to share words and memories with friends and family, to honor him. He changed my life and made a huge difference in our (Sumit and I) lives. But the COVID-19 pandemic began and I didn’t know of anyone who would come to an in-person ceremony. I googled pet memorials and saw some sites that offered it, but it wasn’t what I had imagined. So as quarantine began, I created this website for Chilly and for other pet parents, like you, to create memorials for their beloved pets. 

As I designed the memorial for Chilly, tears came to my eyes (they are still coming to my eyes as I write this blog post). Of course I was sad to think about him and all the memories tied to his life, but constructing the page for him released emotions and feelings that needed to come out. I was grieving, and when we grieve there are heavy emotions that pull us into darkness which is expected. Grieving is vulnerable, uncomfortable, and sad. Writing memories of Chilly immediately released heavy emotions. It forced me to work through my grief, instead of avoiding it (which I talk about here on why we should not avoid our feelings when we are grieving). His memorial also showed what he meant to me and a way to love and honor him. And viewing it on occasion gives me comfort in knowing his memories are preserved, not disappearing which we fear when we lose a pet. 

A client of mine also created a memorial for her dog. She was hesitant at first since her dog had passed away awhile ago. She worried it would stir up painful memories and put her emotionally in a place she did not want to be. That is totally understandable. But it turned out she had not fully grieved the loss of her dog. She stayed busy after her dog passed away to deal with the loss. So when she created the memorial, it brought up painful memories as she had feared, but it forced her to deal with the emotions she had avoided. Pushing away her grief caused her to become irritable. She didn’t realize this on her own, rather her friends and family noticed her personality had changed. Unbeknownst to her, not fully dealing with the death of her dog caused her to be easily annoyed and contentious. This happens when we develop coping mechanisms to protect ourselves from perceived pain. And in her case, the pain was grieving her dog. So when she created the memorial, she went into a dark place and grieved. She became very sad for two days. Then all of a sudden, she felt better. She realized that she fully honored her dog in the way that was therapeutic. She felt a weight fall off her back. Her dog’s memorial helped her to work through her grief and face her fears. Now she is not as irritable and is in a better, healthier place. 

I share these two examples as some of you may be like me and work through the grief and loss right away. And some of you may put off our grieving to a later date. Either way, we all face our grief in time. And when it happens, there are therapeutic tools to help us through the process. Creating a memorial for your pet is similar to honoring human loved ones that have passed. Think about how you feel after you attend a wake or funeral of a loved one. While feeling sad, you feel that you honored them. The process of attending the wake or funeral helped you to grieve. This is the same as designing an online memorial for your pet, that you can keep forever, to share with friends and family. The process of picking a picture of your pet, writing memories and designating words to describe him or her, will help you through the grieving process. And your pet will be glad you took the time to create something so beautiful and thoughtful. 

Please share with anyone who has lost a pet and may want to create a memorial. If you found this helpful, create your free memorial here.


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