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National Pet Memorial Day


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Is it appropriate for people to memorialize a cherished companion animal?

Some may think that conducting rituals, funerals or memorial services for dead animals -- and setting aside special days to remember them -- is a frivolous waste of time and money, and those who engage in such practices must be eccentric and strange.

But the fact is that elaborate funeral arrangements and lasting memorials have been used to honor beloved departed pets for thousands of years. Whether for animals or humans, death ceremonies and rituals help meet our needs to support one another in grief, acknowledge the important role our loved ones played in our lives, honor the memory of our departed companions, and bring meaning to our loss.

The International Association of Pet Cemeteries has designated the second Sunday of September as National Pet Memorial Day. As you think about paying tribute to your animal companion on that special day, feel free to summon up your memories – they’ll comfort you and help you keep your animal’s love and presence in your heart. You can think of what was special about your pet, and reminisce with family members or others who knew your friend. Look over old snapshots. Talk about the funny or silly (or annoying!) habits your pet had. Such reflections will help you plan your own unique ceremony of remembrance, and will help you express and work through your grief as well. You can make a special place in your home, yard or workplace that acknowledges and honors your companion’s life – a place where you can go (or be) and remember your lost friend. Don’t be afraid to be creative. The death of your pet is a natural event and an occasion for the honest expression of your feelings and your values.

You can honor your pet’s memory in whatever way you find meaningful, and I hope you’ll use this space to share with all of us some of the creative and individual ways you plan to celebrate National Pet Memorial Day this year.

To learn how two very special men (one a beloved movie actor, the other, my own father) chose to remember their beloved dogs, see my article, Memorializing a Cherished Pet.

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Oh Marty,

How touching both things were, but I'm glad I read your dad's first because I wouldn't have make it through otherwise. Jimmy Stewart's story will be so much like mine when something happens to my 17y/o Holly. She has been my salvation. She's always so excited to see me come home. Recently if I do anything that indicates I might be leaving she goes down and stands or lays in front of the door as if to say I can't go. I was dreading the day I lose her before but don't know how I will do it without her now for sure. I hope the good Lord gives me quite a bit more time with her.

Thanks for sharing.

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I'm not sure what I might do on Sept.14 for the designated U.S. Pet Memorial Day. Perhaps finally have the courage to view a few more of my girl's final videos...which I haven't been able to bring myself to do so far? But even if I do nothing special, I'll be remembering her, just as I do every single day, whether it's a 'special' day or not.

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