I often wonder about what I’d do if one of my cats died. I almost had a breakdown the May bank holiday where they all went missing for an entire day – I literally went door to door and cried on a neighbour I’d never met before – so I do worry about how I’d cope should the worst happen.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as two separate friends have very sadly had pets pass away this month. It’s such a sad thing to go through isn’t it? I think we underestimate just how attached we get to our pets – we plan for our own funerals, or we talk about it with our parents, but I’m not sure many of us give much consideration to what we would do following the death of a cat or dog.
The classic choice with a cat I guess is to bury them in the garden. That’s what we used to do with our cats when we were little. I remember having a mini funeral for my cat Holly when I was about nine years old – my Dad had had to dig the grave with a trowel from what I remember, which can’t have been a fun job, and I read a poem that I’d written myself.
Burying a dog though – that’s a bigger ask isn’t it? Quite literally if you have something like a Labrador. As much as you might want to feel like they are nearby, burying a large dog in your garden may not really be practical.
One option is a pet cremation, and there are plenty of places online where you can get an urn for dog ashes, so you can choose something tasteful and fitting for your dog’s remains. This way you get to keep your pet’s remains close by – they’ve been one of the family for all this time after all, it’s completely normal and natural to want them to stay with you at home.
If you wanted to, you could even split your dog’s remains and keep some in an urn at home and scatter some, perhaps at what was your dog’s favourite place to go for a walk? Scattering ashes can be very therapeutic, and could be a good opportunity to say a few words of goodbye to your pet as a family.
Whatever you decide is the best option for you when a pet dies, remember that even though they weren’t a person, they were still loved and the grieving process will need respect. Give yourself time and space to feel sad about the loss of your pet and support other families members as they go through the healing process.