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9 Creative Ways to Memorialize Your Pet
September 12 is National Pet Memorial Day, a day to remember the pet companions we've loved and lostBy: Jill Regal
For many of us, pets are family. They’re our alarm clocks, couch potato companions, and adventure buddies—and when we lose them, the grief hits hard. But through the pain, we find ways to remember our passed pets, whether it’s holding our memories close or getting an arm tattoo (a.k.a. wearing our heart on our sleeve).
To mark National Pet Memorial Day, we collected our favorite ways to remember our pets, including 4 stories from our Trupanion team members.
Put pen to paper
It’s true: Writing helps us heal. Write a poem, a goodbye letter, or an email to close family and friends to let them know your pet has passed. Having a particularly tough day? Open a Google Doc and take a few minutes to write down how you’re feeling. Write for your eyes only, or share your work with loved ones—it’s up to you.
...or put your love in ink
“This is Oscar Wilde. I got him in 2006 in college and he’s been with me almost ever since, aside from a few months that he lived with my parents in 2007-2008. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in August of 2019 and thanks to Trupanion, I was able to get him amazing care and have almost two more wonderful years with him.
He passed away on June 5. On July 5, I got my very first tattoo to honor him. Since his name was Oscar Wilde, a quote seemed fitting. So this is from the play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ and it is written in a font based on the original Oscar Wilde’s own handwriting. In case you have difficulty reading it, it says, ‘I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time.’
Oscar was always a fierce and feisty cat, but also loving and so that quote seemed to suit him best. And I placed it on my left arm right by a couple of scars he left me from scratches over time. The picture of him was from shortly before we found out that his cancer had returned, the last photo I have of him still looking like his spunky self.”
Donate your pet’s things
Writing makes us feel better—and giving does too. When you’re ready, consider donating your pet’s things, such as their bed and leash, for free on Craigslist or through your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. If you have unopened pet food or toys, contact your local shelter or animal rescue to see if they would accept the donation.
If you have the time and inclination, consider donating your time by volunteering at a local animal shelter or rescue. While it’s not something to rush into, volunteering for organizations in need can help get us on the road to healing.
...or turn their stuff into treasures
“It’s been almost 10 years since she crossed the bridge, but my previous rescue Maddie was a sassy gal who I thought was 3-4 years old at adoption but more likely 7 years.
She taught me a lot about recognizing which battles to fight (sometimes it’s better to let them have the sidewalk pizza vs cleaning the litter box for you). She was my first dog as an adult and gave me a real understanding about just how well you need to secure food items!
As part of my grieving process, I upcycled her old dog bed, leash and collar into a purse so she could still, in a sense, go for walks with me.”
Commission a piece of art
You probably have 10,000 photos of your pet on your phone. Choose a photo you love and have an artist turn it into a custom pet portrait. Or a custom blanket. Or a coffee mug, ornament, or...you get the idea.
...or create a gallery wall
"During the pandemic, we lost one of our sweet babies, Spencer, in March of 2020 and our other best friend, Salvatore in March 2021. The loss was sudden and hard on our family. They loved being together and spending time with one another.
To honor them, we just started working on a pet gallery wall of memories, photos, and items that remind us of our best friends, so we can look up and think fondly on them during our day.”
...or get their paw prints in clay
“My mom died suddenly in October. I was 33, and she still had ‘my’ cat from high school, Medea, who was 17 or 18 at that point. After my mom’s death, my aunt found a new home for Medea.
I live 2,000 miles away and wanted to visit Medea the next time I was in town. When I finally got to see her again, Medea was clearly on her way out of this world. I spent an hour holding her. While she purred, I told her I loved her and thanked her for being there for our family. A couple of days later, she passed.
The lovely woman who gave Medea a home during her last few months is getting a clay imprint of Medea’s paw prints, and I’m going to keep them. Not only as a way to remember my cat, but as a way to remember my mom too.”
Create a fundraiser in your pet’s name
Want to honor the memory of your best friend and help animals in need? Consider setting up a memorial fundraiser with Best Friends Animal Society. It only takes a few moments to get it up and running, and you can easily share with friends and family on social media. If you don’t feel up for a fundraiser, consider asking loved ones to donate to The Humane Society of the United States.
Do what feels right for you
Grief is a personal expression of love, and there’s no one-size-fits all way to experience it. For some of us, finding concrete ways to remember how our pets lived—rather than how they passed—can help us move forward. No matter what you do (or don’t do), one thing is for sure: We’re all better for experiencing the unconditional love of pets.
For more inspiration on pets, check out Six Books for Dog and Cat Lovers.
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A WORD FROM TRUPANION
Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.
This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.