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The Value of Ceremony

created at: 2010/09/23

The death of our pets is fast becoming recognised as a significant loss and that the grief and bereavement that follows is a deep and complex process. There is no ‘one size fits all’ response to death and loss. There are many choices depending upon how your pet has died and your own circumstances.

Many people chose to hold a ceremony- from a simple and personal ceremony between intimate family members and friends, to bigger more celebratory occasions that involve a wider circle of friends and, in the case of dogs especially, their friends from the neighbourhood and park.

A ceremony, however simple, is a time to combine words, music and actions that give everyone gathered some space to share their own experiences of your pet, to acknowledge their death and to celebrate their life.

It may seem for some, a bit of a fuss, bit for others, it is a way to express just how much your pet was a central part of your lives and to create a time where the bonds of family and friends are strengthened.

Have the ceremony in a place that you are comfortable in- at home, in the park where you spent time, a special place you can return to and are able to shed a tear in.

Tell the neighbours of other friends of your pets’ death if you feel this will support you in sharing and validating the intense feelings of loss you are feeling.

Alternatively, you can make cards and drop them in letterboxes or send an email out informing friends and family of your pets death, inviting them to a ceremony or asking them to contribute stories, any pictures they have.

You can compile these into a book of your pet- this is a great exercise to do with children and it remains as a treasured memento.

Author Victoria Spence