If you’ve had a beloved pet in your life, you know how that love and so many funny, dear, and silly memories linger well beyond their short lifespans. I gathered these ideas to share creative ways to memorialize your pet in your home and garden.
Creative Ways to Memorialize Pets
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”– Winnie The Pooh
A few years ago I was on a tour of local home gardens and noticed so many memorial stones dedicated to family pets that had completed their earthly lives. This got me thinking about all the wonderful pets we have had over the years—cats, dogs, birds, fish, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, and more—and how important it is to properly grieve and commemorate all the lovely beings we share our lives with—great and small—whether they have two legs, four legs, fins, or tails.
The practical aspect of burial or cremation will depend on your local bylaws. Here I want to focus on creative ideas that, for want of a better word, can bring happy reminders.
Grief is such a sneaky beast, popping up when we least expect it, sometimes after long silences. The best advice is to celebrate the life of your pet in your way and at your own pace in ways that bring you comfort. And know that the day will indeed come when the sweeter memories outweigh the pain of the loss.
“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.”– Leo Dworken
There are all kinds of wonderful artists on Etsy ready to take a photo of your pet and transform it into a work of art.
Some portraits are digital, meaning the original image (that you provide) is enhanced in software like Photoshop and the final product is printed out on paper.
The more expensive option is to provide a photo of your pet and hire an artist to create an actual acrylic, watercolor, or oil painting from it. Some are realistic portraits; others add an element of fantasy.
Whatever you choose, be sure to read the entire product description carefully so you know what you’re getting (digital file, print by mail, or original art by mail). Also check sizes: some of these range from quite small (a few inches) to fairly large. I find it really helpful to read the reviews to know what to expect.
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”– Hilary Stanton Zunin
These trinkets start with a photo of your pet which is transformed into a small piece of jewelry or a keychain. If you take comfort in having something tangible that you can carry with you, this is a good option.
Related: DIY Pet Sweater Bed
3Dolls & Figurines
“Dogs…do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value they have to bequeath except their love and their faith.”– Eugene O’Neill
Some of these next ideas are a little silly, anthropomorphizing the pets. When our rabbit Eli died, one of my daughters painted me a portrait of him as a medieval musician and it was a perfect tribute to his rather romantic personality.
If you prefer a more realistic rendition, there are also artists who make true to life statues as well.
Related: Eco-Friendly Alternative Cat Litter
“His ears were often the first thing to catch my tears.”– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A memory box is a good option for stashing things like photos or belongings like the leash, tags, and collar.
5Décor & Ornaments
“Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”– Amy Sedaris
These days photos can be printed on just about any surface. A pillow is a popular choice but there are plenty of services that will also do shirts, blankets, totes, mugs, and more.
The small ornaments below are folk-arty and perfect for those of us who like an artistic rendition.
6Garden Markers & Art
“A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.”~Lacie Petitto
This section takes us back to where I started: traditional grave or garden markers. And you certainly don’t need a grave site to dedicate a piece of your garden to the memory of your pet.
One final idea that costs nothing and can bring comfort is to write down your memories of favorite moments with your pet. I’ve done this with our pets and they always make me smile.
I hope this has inspired you to seek out whatever you need to remember your pets with a lighter heart. It’s such a tough loss and, while time can help, it’s bittersweet. But, ultimately, how fortunate we are to have had these dear creatures in our lives.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛