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Creating a Pet Memorial to Bring Closure to a Pet’s Death

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When a pet dies, it is hard for the whole family.  It does not matter if you are a young child, a teenager, an adult, or senior citizen.  When you have a pet, you form bonds with that pet, and then the pet dies, it is a loss of a family member. What happens when our pet dies?  Do they just get to run around chasing their tail all day, or do they get to copy humans and get a lifetime’s worth of free spins on any casino website?

I have had several cats over my adult life. My first cat, Kimberly, was staying at a friend’s house and jumped out the window.  I never knew what happened to her, so I never knew if she was alive or dead.  Since she was a very friendly cat, I had hoped that she found another family to take her in.

My second cat was named George.  He was a great cat, but due to some strange circumstances, we had to give him up for adoption.

A few years later, we adopted a new cat named Nancy.  She was a great cat, and she lived with our family through several homes and 13 years of life.

We live in a second floor apartment, and we have stairs to lead to the roof.  So Nancy had claimed the roof area as her own.  Unfortunately, one day she fell off of that area and we did not know what happened to her.  We looked for her and called her name, but we could not find her.  A couple of weeks later, we finally found her next to our apartment building, deceased.

The whole family was sad about the passing of Nancy, but one younger family member was very upset, and cried for over an hour.

We came up with the idea to create a memorial for Nancy.  So I looked on Etsy, to find some options. We found a company that created some beautiful memorials for a reasonable price.

First we picked what we wanted the memorial to be on.  I wanted something that was ‘different’ than a traditional picture, because I wanted the feeling when looking at it that it was something special.  That it was not just a regular picture of our cat.

We picked a ceramic tile for the memorial.  Although I  loved the idea of the tile, I did not really think things through.  First, it is heavy, and I had not thought about how I would hang it up.  Through tries and failures, I finally ended up mounting the tile on a calendar indicator that had a corkboard on the front.  I just glued the tile (with strong craft glue) to the cork board and it become a very nice tabletop memorial.

The second item I did not think about was that the finished tile was not protected, so the paint could easily get scratched.  I fixed that taking some clear glue and putting a very thick coat of glue on top of the tile.  If the tile is meant to go outside, my solution would not survive the elements, but for an indoor only memorial display, it worked.

There are tile memorials that are designed to go outside.  Those would be protected from the elements, but they are also more expensive.  Speaking from experience, go with the one that designed to go outside, since it will hold up better.  The price difference is not enough to deal with the stress of adding your own protective coat.

As for the actual memorial, when we purchased our memorial, we submitted a picture of our cat, and the text that we wanted to include.

In Loving Memory of Nancy

2008 – 2021

Although the design of the memorial started out with me and one other family member working on the project, it soon turned into a truly family activity.  My oldest son wrote the poem for the memorial.

Eyes of fleck and wet of nose,
Meows and growls to let you know,
‘Gimme food I’m so hungry!
Gimme more from the pantry’
To which we say ‘alas you’ve had four bowls’,
So she cried and wailed and cajoled our souls,
‘But for a single scoop! I beg of thee!’
And ’twas how she manipulated us, you see.
Our slick and hungry cat, Nancy.

After we submitted these items to the memorial creator, she sent back a design, that was beyond gorgeous.  The original image was Nancy sleeping on a blue couch, and the artist, turned it into a beautiful image of Nancy sleeping on clouds.

It has been about a year since Nancy passed away.  At first, before we made this memorial, I did not really know how it would affect the healing process of our family.  For one specific family member, the loss of Nancy was very upsetting.  I know that going through the process to make the memorial was very positive.  We got the memorial from the designer, we mounted it in a way that would help to prevent it from getting damaged, and it is definitely not a standard “picture on the wall” type of display.

But it was only this past week when I finally realized just how much the memorial helped in my son’s emotional healing.  My son is taking a photography class online, and during the class the instructor told the student to take three pictures of things that had special meaning to them.  The first picture my son took was a picture of Nancy’s memorial.

So if you are mourning the loss of a family pet or even a human family member, I would highly recommend creating a custom memorial.  Every time I look at the memorial I not only remember Nancy, but I also remember how the whole family worked together to help design the memorial.

Peter Wallace did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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