A guide to planning ahead banner - the pet loss center
A guide to planning ahead - the pet loss center

A Tribute to My Pet’s Life

Preparing yourself in advance for the death of your pet, while emotionally taxing, is a wise and thoughtful thing to do. Certainly none of us likes to think of that day, the day our heart will be broken into a million pieces. Thinking about this ahead of time will give you and your family the opportunity to discuss how you would like to memorialize your beloved pet and to celebrate the life that you all shared together.

There are numerous elements to think about regarding the death of your pet and your final wishes. Take this time to reflect upon what your pet will need in respectful death care treatment, as well as the support you will need as a grieving pet parent. Making sure that your beloved pet is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve will be of the utmost importance at this time. Knowing your various options will relieve much of the stress you may have in ensuring what you do is appropriate to not only honor the life of your pet but to ensure they are receiving the care and treatment in death that was important to you for them in life.

Final Arrangements

The final arrangement wish for my pet’s body is:

Influences to help shape your decision for burial or cremation are:
If burial, where?
HomeFriend’s HomeLocal Pet Cemetery

Areas of consideration with this decision are:

  • • Will this town/county/development allow pet burials?
  • • Will you always live in this area or have access to this burial ground?
  • • Do your religious preferences guide you in one way or another?
  • • Did your pet like the outside or the inside? Will that influence your pet’s
  • final resting place?

For burial, will you want a casket to protect your pet’s body?

If cremation, will you want the ashes returned?

If this answer is no, you need to ask your pet death care provider for a “group” cremation or “communal” cremation. Your pet will be cremated with other pets, their ashes scattered in a designated area.

For cremation, is it important to you to have your pet’s body cremated alone in the crematory?

If this answer is yes, many death care providers will have the option of a “private” cremation. Your pet’s body will be solo in the crematory, ensuring the returned ashes are only your pet.

Service Options


Many death care providers will provide a tracking system through the cremation process, a “tag” with a unique number that will accompany the pet’s body. To ensure the safety, security, and authentication of the cremation, ask your cremation provider about this process. Many families will also want to have one last time to be with their pet after death, a visitation or wake, if you will. While this may seem like a trivial thing – or possibly something that you consider morbid and odd, this one last time with your pet is valuable time spent. A time to see your pet at peace. A time for your children to pay tribute by bringing in items special to your pet. A time to begin the grief journey and to say that final good-bye.

Many times, friends, family members, and other pets in the household will want to have their final good-bye with your pet, too. Pets touch so many people during their short lives with us. Allow those around you the opportunity to come together, pay their respects, and support each other.

My family and I will want a Final Good-Bye Time with our pet:

Occasionally families will take this Final Good-Bye Time to incorporate their important family/religious rituals. Rituals may look like:

  • Special readings
  • Rituals you and your pet did to say “I love you”
  • A candle lighting tribute
  • Reading of special poems and remembrances
  • Sharing videos of the pet and your family
  • The planting of a tree/flower/bush
  • Scripture readings
  • A donation drive for a local shelter in memory of your pet
  • Playing audio tapes of their meow/bark/chirp
  • Reading a eulogy to remember your pet’s life with your family

The following rituals are important and will be included in our Final Good-Bye Time together:

Memorialization Options

Making a decision on memorialization products is a personal process. This will be reflective of the life shared with your pet, your lifestyle, your personal style, and those items that are reflective of your pet’s personality. It is also important to take into consideration where your memorialization pieces will go in your home, or in your yard, and how you want the item to look, either blending in with your decor or making an individual statement. In addition, if you have a large pet family, consider a memorialization piece where all of the pets can be together.

There are various memorialization products:

  • Rocks/Garden Flagstones
  • An urn that is reflective of your decorating style
  • An urn with paw prints to show your love of animals
  • A personalized urn made to look like the pet
  • Locket jewelry to hold a bit of the pet’s ashes or hair
  • Jewelry that would have the pet’s own paw print or nose print on it
  • An eco-friendly urn for burial in a special location
  • A piece of art done to depict the pet’s personality
  • A frame to hold a cast of your pet’s paw print, nose print, and locket of hair
  • Memorial note cards

The desired memorialization items to remember our pet are:

The personalization of your memorial pieces will truly make them as unique as your relationship with your pet. From an inscription on an urn or jewelry piece to the saying on a rock or marker, your sentimental words will create a true reflection of the love you have for your special pet. Hearing other friends and family member’s stories is certainly a wonderful way to reflectively pay tribute to your pet and get everyone involved in honoring their life. Consider what you think of when reflecting on your pet’s life:

A nickname:

  • “He was our little Buddy-Wuddy”
  • “Squirrelly-Girly-Shirley”
  • “Sweetie Pie”
  • “Whit”

A saying:

  • “Our First Born”
  • “She’s My Girl, Daddy”
  • “Hiding sox in heaven”
  • “Always Chasing Frisbees and Hearts”


  • Birthdate/Gotcha date to death date

Other ways to personalize memorialization pieces:

  • A photo
  • Personal paw print or nose print
  • A way to show your pet’s love of their favorite thing - a bone, slice of pizza or