How To Plan a Pet Funeral in Five Steps
How To Plan a Pet Funeral in Five Steps

“How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” - Winnie the Pooh

The passing of a pet can shock the very foundation on which your family stands. It’s like losing your best friend, someone who loved you more than you loved yourself. Many people grieve for their pets as they would any other loved one. During this heartbreaking time, thankfully, there are many different ways to memorialize your furry friend to help deal with grief.

-Create a pet garden or plant a tree in the name of your pet

-Place photos with customized picture frames or customized pillows and blankets around the house

-Donate your time or money to a local animal shelter

-Sponsor a memorial bench at a local animal park

-Hold a small amount of cremains close to your heart with cremation jewelry

-Create a scrapbook of memorial photos

-Plan a funeral and hold a ceremony

Many people find that having a funeral for their pet helps them and their families deal with their grief. A funeral, just like a funeral for a human, takes a lot of thought and time. But here are five steps to help streamline your planning process. Remember you can create a funeral as elaborate or simple as you’d like.

Step 1: Determine the resting place/funeral home

Step 2: Decide on what type of funeral - Burial v.s. Cremation

Step 3: Secure endowment care if using a pet cemetery

Step 4: Choose a cremation container or casket/grave marker 

Step 5: Plan the details of the service and decide who will participate



Step 1: Determine the resting place/funeral home

You can decide to bury your pet on a privately-owned property (as long as the landowner approves), keep cremated remains in an urn at home, scatter cremains somewhere special to your pet, or you can enlist the help of pet funeral service companies. In the U.S. there are over 700 funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries that cater mostly to animals. Feel free to use your directory or search “ Pet funeral homes near me” online to find homes conveniently located for your family. Once you have options, call each provider and discuss your wishes and budgets. Full-service packages can include pickup from your vet’s office or home, a viewing ceremony, and cremation services. If you are euthanizing your pet, a situation that is already hard enough, your veterinarian will often know a local pet funeral service company. Euthanizing a pet to end her/his pain can be extremely difficult. If you are in the process of doing it, but haven't yet, read this article to understand more about the process ahead of time to help ease concerns. It doesn't make it any easier, but at least you will know what to expect and can prepare somewhat.


Step 2: Decide on what type of funeral

There are several types of funeral services you can hold – traditional burial, cremation, green burial, interment in a mausoleum, and more. Ask your funeral home for resources or information to help you make those decisions and explain costs.

Questions to discuss with the funeral home include:

  • Will there be a casket – open or closed?
  • If a body will be cremated, will the ashes be scattered? If the ashes are deposited in an urn, will they be placed in a mausoleum?
  • Did you want to include any certain religious traditions?

If you are not using funeral home services, then you can host a memorial service at your home that allows friends and family to say goodbye to your pet and offer condolences. Caution, it is easier, especially for children, to have buried and filled your pet’s grave before inviting others to share prayers and memories. 


 Step 3: Secure endowment care if using a pet cemetery

Talk to the funeral home to make sure the general maintenance of your loved one’s gravesite will be kept up. You can discuss the funding needed and options available with your funeral home director.


Step 4: Choose a cremation container, casket, and/or grave marker

The funeral home can help you purchase a casket or cremation urn, but know that you can shop elsewhere. Prices for these vary.

-Caskets will naturally be more expensive as they are bigger. With a burial, the body will lie in a casket and attendants will lower it into the ground. Your burial plan can specify any sentimental items to be buried with the body, such as your pet’s favorite toy or treats. Make sure to discuss burial markers available to you to mark the grave.

-With cremations, know you can still plan a memorial service and a reception. Just remember you need an urn to hold the remains. Check out this place that sells over 225 different USA-made urns and offers free customization to allow your urn to reflect the personality of your beloved pet. Now, remember to order an urn big enough to fit all the ashes, unless you are going to divide the ashes up to give to family members or friends to keep. Each cubic inch in the urn should fit one pound. So a 100-pound animal would need a 100 cubic inch size urn. To learn more about calculating what size urn fits your needs visit an urn calculator found here. If you need more help finding the right pet urn for you, check out this article here.

Grave Markers

A grave marker can be just about anything. You can contact a local funeral home to buy a headstone, order one online, your family can create a mosaic from quick-dry cement, or you can use rocks that your pet used to love playing near. If you need more DIY headstone Ideas to get the whole family involved, check out this article.

Before you dig the hole, make sure you keep the following points in mind:

  • First, be aware of any plumbing or electrical lines if you are digging close to your house. If you are not sure where they are located, you can call your local utility company as they most likely will come out to your property for free to mark the underground lines for you.
  • If you’re burying the pet’s body you will need to dig a hole that is three to four feet deep to prevent animals from digging it up. This will help hide the smell of the decomposing remains. You can add a layer of kitty litter near the top of the hole to minimize the smell, but it’s not necessary.
  • If you are burying cremains, you won’t need to dig as deep, just enough to cover the bag of cremains or urn you are using.

Green Burial

If you want to do a green burial, then discuss burying your pet without a container or using something biodegradable like a cardboard box. There are biodegradable cremation urns or containers that can be bought as well. 


Step 5: Plan the details of the service and decide who will participate

Whether you want photos, videos, music, memorabilia, passages to be read at the service, a post-service meal, etc., all needs to be discussed, as well as the funeral time and date. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help from others if offered. You might have to decide which relatives or friends need to serve as pallbearers or give a eulogy if you are not relying on a clergy representative to speak about the deceased pet. Photos can be displayed in nice memorial photo frames at the service, available to buy here. You could also put those beautiful memorial day pictures in a custom-made memorial frame as a keepsake in your house.

LifeSong Pet Memorials Pet Memorial Picture Frame - I Held You In My Arms

 

Plaques, plates, signs, wall crosses, or ornaments can also be made for the service, gifts to those who helped, or as an extra way to remember your furry friend.

 

Again, if you didn’t use a funeral home or cemetery, you could have a post-burying party at a dog park with all your friend’s animals. You could give out your pet’s favorite treats and play your pet’s favorite games. With the innocent nature of pets, your pets surely would love to see you celebrating the joys of life he/she enjoyed so much.  

It can be extremely hard losing a pet. If you think that the grief is consuming you and need help dealing with your emotions, read, “Moving through the 7 Stages of Grief After Losing a Pet.”

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