The festive season isn’t always the merriest of times. Every year we see highs and lows, and just as very often the highs are exquisite moments, the lows can be especially heartbreaking. One of the biggest losses a person can experience is losing their pet. People who’ve never had a pet might find this an odd concept, but a pet can truly be a part of the family and a loved one, who’s passing is mourned just like that of a person. If you think about dogs, their whole life is wrapped up in you, all they knew and wanted was to love you, which they do unconditionally right until the end. If such a loyal, loving friend was a part of your life for the better part of a decade, if not more, how could you not be devastated when it’s time to say goodbye.
So when the holidays roll around, it can be especially difficult, as it brings into even sharper relief those whom you’ve lost that year. If you’re reading this and you’ve lost a pet – and our hearts are with you – or if a close friend or relative has, there are some meaningful gifts or gestures that can be given to comfort those that now have a four-pawed hole in their lives.
You can order customized wind chimes that are adorned with a pawprint or feather and an inscription, meaningful to the owner and their pet. A home can be awfully quiet when it’s left without the barks, meows or chirps of a pet, so hanging some commemorative wind-chimes can be quite a comfort – every time they twinkle, you will think of your pet.
Headstone or Urn
It’s perhaps less of a tradition for most, but not all pets will have a gravemarker upon their burial, nor an urn for their ashes if opting for cremation. You can order personalized urns or headstones, marked with a pawprint, special quote or any other image that bears a connection to your pet. It would be a loving touch to be able to come to their place of rest and bring flowers, or maybe a treat when you visit your old buddy.
A keepsake box
It’s not uncommon for loved ones to be buried with a selection of personal items that they really cherished, and you can create one for your pet. It can be engraved with their name and filled with anything that’s special – their favourite toys, their collar or lead, some photos of you together, so they can keep an image of you close by. You can either bury your fluffy pal with their treasured possessions or keep it for yourself, so you can look through it whenever you’re missing your pet or feeling wistful.
Similar to the keepsake box idea, but if you’d like to hang a tribute to your pet at home, you can get specialised deep-set photo frames, into which you can put their collar or toy, coupled with a photo. Alternatively, you could have their pawprints done in ink or a cast, with a poem or inscription. If you don’t have access to these things, then you can simply get the frame for your friend and they can fill it with whatever means most to them.
While by modern standards taxidermy is quite creepy, there are toy companies that can make beautifully accurate stuffed toy replicas of your pet. They’ll be soft and fluffy and the best companies even capture the love and energy in the eyes! There’s nothing worse than reaching out to scratch your pet, almost on autopilot, and finding their usual spot empty. This was you can give your grieving loved one that sense of touch they will miss most when they lose their pet. Another wonderful idea is to make a customized children’s book. You can either get one where the illustrations inside are that of your pet or even better, you can record your own sounds that activate when pressed, with interactive books.
Through videos, the pet owner is bound to have a recording of their pet’s barks, meows or purrs somewhere and you can use those sounds for the book. If you’re sad that your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren missed out on quality time with a pet you really wanted them to get to know, this way they can bond with them, in a way, it will warm your heart to hear your pet’s familiar voice bringing joy to your loved ones.
A digital gift and online memorial
It’s rare for a pet to have a memorial service and unlikely that friends would take time to attend one, but you can host a memorial service for the fluff balls online. Not only can loved ones log in and pay their respects in their own time, but they can enjoy a beautifully curated web page full of photos, memories and a place to leave comments. Moreover, you can set up a linked charity page, so those remembering the pet can make a donation to organisations like the RSPCA or Battersea Dogs & Cats Home or maybe a charity in support of a particular animal illness, especially if that’s how the pet was lost. The donation can be made in the pet’s name or you could sponsor a guide or therapy dog, on behalf of the dog owner.
However, you choose to express your own grief or support a mourning pet owner, any of the ideas above are a touching and sensitive way to honour your old friend, remember them and bid them a loving, fond farewell.