Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

Choosing Funeral Services


Recommended Posts

We lost our dog, Kong this weekend. Unfortunately, it was very sudden. We place him on our balcony before we went to bed and found him struggling for his last breath 5 hours later. We rushed him to the animal hospital, but unfortunately were not able to make it in time.

The first thing we're trying to get over is incredible guilt. If we hadn't put him on the deck, perhaps we could have heard him, or even if we couldn't save him, he could have at least been in a more familiar final resting place. Add to that is the pain of losing and missing him. It's been very difficult to deal with this.

Today my husband and I started dealing with funeral services which in itself has us completely torn. We either want to bury him at an animal cemetary which is on land that's absolutely beautiful and is protected property...or cremate him and scatter his ashes off Mt. Washington in NH...it was the one time we took him on vacation and he absolutely loved it.

The benefit of the cemetary is that we can visit him...and in looking at the other tombstones today and speaking the names of the other departed pets...it was a nice feeling of paying homage to them and I like the idea that someday, someone may do the same and utter his name. On the other hand...the symbolism of taking him on a mountain top and adding some meaning to the location sounds right too...the only problem is that we feel uneasy about the cremation process.

I was hoping some of you could share your stories of what you chose and how you feel about it now. Perhaps it will lend us some guidance.

Kong was our most precious dog, and we hope the whole we have in our hearts right now will be filled with more and more wonderful memories of our 12 years together.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Niki,

I’m so sorry to learn of the sudden, unexpected death of your beloved companion, Kong, this past weekend. Since he was with you and your husband for twelve years, I’m sure he managed to weave himself into the very fabric of your lives together, and I can only imagine how very much you are missing his physical presence now.

You say that “the first thing we’re trying to get over is incredible guilt,” and so I want to refer you to one of the articles I’ve written, Loss and the Burden of Guilt. (For other articles of interest on pet loss, please see those listed on my site's Pet Loss Articles page.

You also say you're struggling with whether to have Kong's body cremated, as you feel somewhat uneasy about the process. I can tell you that, if you do decide to have Kong cremated, your being present for the cremation is the best way to make certain that the cremains that are returned to you really are those of your dog. You can also take comfort in knowing that Kong's cremains will be with you always. Even if you decide to scatter most of them off Mt. Washington, you can always separate and keep a small portion of them with you, either in a small container or a locket of some kind.

I will share with you that when my own beloved Muffin (a darling Cockapoo) was hit by a car and had to be euthanized in 1986, I had no idea what to do with his remains either. My husband and I ended up burying his body in our backyard in New Jersey — but of course the time eventually came when we moved to Arizona, and I cannot tell you how difficult it was for us to leave his grave behind! How was I to know that the option we chose would later turn out to be the "wrong" one? Like you, when this happened to our beloved Muffin it came right out of the blue. We were totally unprepared to even think about our dog as dead much less know what to do with his body. So we did what made sense to us at the time. And that is precisely why eventually Katherine Heuerman and I later came to write our book, The Final Farewell: Preparing for and Mourning the Loss of Your Pet. We wanted animal lovers like ourselves to know in advance that sooner or later we all will lose our animals to death (their life span is far shorter than our own), that we are responsible for deciding what to do with our animals' remains after death, and we ought not wait until we are in the throes of overwhelming grief to decide what we want to do with our cherished animals after they die, when we are not in the best position or frame of mind to make such difficult and unpleasant decisions.

I don't think there are any right or wrong decisions here, Niki – you simply have to do the best you can with the information you have available to you at the time, given your own unique circumstances and resources. And you do what you think you can live with later.

Based on those criteria, it seems to me that your decision to have Kong's body cremated is a very sensible one. If you want to have a place of remembrance at the pet cemetery where you can go to visit, you might consider placing a portion of his cremains in a container in a columbarium there – or you could purchase a memorial brick for a wall or walkway of remembrance, such as the one we have in the memorial park on the grounds our Arizona Humane Society here in Phoenix AZ. A less expensive option is to create a simple place of remembrance in your own home or yard – this can be done indoors with a potted plant, a photograph or a candle, or outdoors with a shrub, rosebush, tree or memorial garden. See my MEMORIALIZING A PET page for links to dozens of sites that offer various wonderful and creative ways of remembering our precious canine companions. You are limited only by your own imagination.

I hope that in time you will come to see that regardless of what you decide to do with Kong’s remains, the love and the bond that you had with him will be with you always, and the memories you have of his life with you will remain in your heart forever, just as long as you choose to keep those precious memories alive.

I hope what I've said is helpful, Niki. Regardless of what you and your husband decide to do, though, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers, and may the memories of your beloved Kong one day fill your hearts with joy.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Marty,

Thank you so much for your kind words and advice. The past few days have been so difficult for us...beyond all of the emotions and thoughts involved in bereavement, we weren't prepared for the physical withdrawal and the "hauntings" - each of which brings our day to a complete standstill. Fortunately, we've received much love and support from our friends.

We have chosen to have Kong cremated tomorrow morning, and have arranged to transport him and be present at the facility. As lovely as the pet cemetary was, it didn't make sense to memorialize him in a place he's never been.

I am so sorry for you loss as well. It has been amazing to be exposed to online communities like this one and to see that we're not alone in the in our grief. Thank you for giving me hope that the emptiness we feel in our hearts now will slowly be filled with happy memories.

I look forward to reading the articles.

Many thanks again,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...