Losing a beloved pet is a devastating experience. Here you will find resources to support you during these difficult days.
This is a good time to gather friends and family for a ceremony to honour the life of your pet.
A ceremony is appropriate at any time. You can plan a memorial or celebration of your pet’s life immediately following the death of your pet or years later.
For private memorials
Gather items from your home that belonged to your pet (food bowl, collar, leash, etc…). Also include photos. You can create a small altar that may or may not include your pet’s ashes.
Make a collage of photos of your pet.
A ceremony for remembering a beloved dog:
At the time you would normally walk your dog, go out carrying their leash and go for your habitual walk. Stop at all of your pet’s favourite places to sniff or play.
You can use the walk time in silent meditation while you ponder about all of the gifts your pet gave you. Perhaps going over memories of when you first met your dog and all of the joyful times you had together. Part of the joy of having a pet are the memories with which they fill our hearts. You will always be able to reminisce about your beloved pet to get you through the challenging times ahead.
Perhaps you will meet neighbours walking their dogs. This is an opportunity to tell people that your dog has died. If you don’t feel up to it designate one of your companions to tell those you meet walking what has happened.
When you return home you may ask if anyone would like to share their memories of your beloved pet. Then thank those who walked with you.
A Pet Memorial
Gather those whom you wish to join you in remembering your beloved pet.
On a small table create a display of items that belonged to your pet or that remind you of your pet. Do include photos and a candle.
After your friends have gathered, light the candle on the table with your pet’s memorabilia.
“I light this candle in honour of our beloved pet _______ (name) who we hold in our hearts this day.”
May the flame remind us of the warmth and love that was given and received by _______ (pet). May this light help guide our pet to a place of peace. May this flame give us strength as we remember _______ (pet) today.
We are gathered today to honour the life of _____________ (pet’s name), special friend of _____________ (care giver of pet). They have been special companions for many years.
Until we are lucky enough to have a pet enter our lives we perhaps don’t understand the depth of feeling that we can have towards and animal. We were all fortunate that we knew and loved ______. (pet)
Today is a sad day. Life will simply not be the same without the presence of ________. However we are also gathered to celebrate our memories of ______. Let us take a few minutes to share our memories of ________. The memory you share could be something you particularly appreciated about ______ or something you learned from them. Perhaps a special time you spend with _______.
(Allow time here for people to speak.)
In death we are reminded of the circle of life. Intellectually and emotionally it is hard to come to terms with death and loss. _____ has finished their walk with us but we will always hold our memories of ______ in our hearts.
Let us take a few minutes to bless (or acknowledge) ____’s belongings:
(Pick up other belongings – recall _______ with joy with which ________ used the items. Saying … ) ________’s (Pet) enthusiasm cheered up everyone we met. Or remember how much ____ enjoyed their food (if blessing food bowl). Recall how much ______ loved to play. (If acknowledging pet’s toys)
As we think about cherished _____ (pet) let us remember that their spirit has gone over the rainbow bridge either to be in nature or heaven. (Choose the place depending on your beliefs).
Reading or poetry
(You can share a poem you have written about your pet or choose one of these…)
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
-Cecil Frances Alexander
We who choose to surround ourselves
with lives even more temporary than our
own, live within a fragile circle;
easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only
certain immortality, never fully
understanding the necessary plan….
Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
What we have once enjoyed
we can never lose;
All that we love deeply,
becomes a part of us.
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
A Poem for the Grieving…
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die…
It came to me that every time I lose a dog
they take a little piece of my heart with them,
and every new dog who comes into my life gifts
me with a piece of their heart. If I live long
enough, all of the components of my heart will
be dog and I will become as generous and as
loving as they are.
The Rainbow Bridge – (Inspired by a Norse legend)
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.
-Steve and Diane Bodofsky
“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us,
these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so
many years of our own lives.”
– John Galsworthy
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief.
But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared
the pain of never risking love.”
– Hilary Stanton Zunin
“You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he’s gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what he’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
Prayer for Animals
Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals,
especially for animals who are suffering;
for animals that are overworked, underfed and cruelly treated;
for all wistful creatures in captivity that beat their wings against bars;
for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put death.
We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion
and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals,
and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
– Albert Schweitzer