Animal memorials are an important part of what experts across the world, and in multiple academic disciplines, say is important for healthy coping with the grief over the loss of a beloved pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or even a gold fish or a lizard, an animal can be a treasured member of any family, and, when it passes on, building an animal memorial can feel like the right thing to do. And, despite social pressures that may suggest otherwise, it is the right thing to do, many experts say. Here are a few tips and ideas for how and why you should not hesitate to build animal memorials for the treasured pets of your life.
The first question to address is why animal memorials are a healthy idea. Experts from philosophy to psychology to veterinary medicine can be found to agree on this topic. When an animal that has become a pet dies, the emotional consequences can be just as devastating as if any other family member has died. (In fact, there have been many cases – particularly involving older people who have outlived their closest friends and family – in which a person has admitted that the death of a pet was probably even more painful than that of a human in his or her life.) So, as strange as it may seem to others in our society, it's important to acknowledge feelings of loss and grief over a pet with a very special animal memorial. Philosophers will have to admit that the question of whether animals have souls that go to heaven remains debatable and, so long as that's the case, it is certainly reasonable to feel a profound sense of loss over the death of a pet and to wish to acknowledge the pet's memory for the ages with an animal memorial. Psychologists, likewise, will warn that hiding or denying emotions is never healthy in any situation. So, despite all too common advice from lay people to “just get over” the death of a beloved animal, experts in the field of mental health will almost always say that a public animal memorial is just the thing that will unhinge the flood of emotions needed to bring about the all-important “closure” that a person often needs to cope adequately with grief. And, finally, veterinarians are not necessarily trained in the arts of the mind, but they know, from a practical point of view that the death of a pet can bring a terrible sadness to any family and that animal memorials almost always have a way of visibly easing the pain of those suffering from grief.
Now we turn to the question of how to build animal memorials. Any idea, product, piece of art or spirited action can make for a good animal memorial. The key ingredient is a lasting tribute to the animal's beloved spirit. A surprising number of products are available today that will surely help memorialize any animal's spirit precisely. Among these are animal cremation urns that are designed to reflect the charming personality of a pet. These amazingly diverse pieces can be found made from just about any type of material imaginable and they can be designed in any sort of fashion. Many will point to eternal designs of pet hood. These include dog houses, bones, and balls of yarn, colorful balls and even fire hydrants. But still others are simply classic designs – modeled after, for example, the age-old look of the Grecian urn – that have been modified to include artistic tributes to the charming memory of an animal. But animal cremation urns are only just the start when it comes to products available that make for perfect contributions to any animal memorial. Pet caskets and pet headstones are available today that will assure that any pet's burial can be as dignified as that of any human. Whereas in the past, many pets were buried more or less anonymously (sometimes in as undignified a casket as shoe box or a shopping bag) after a very brief back-yard animal memorial service, today's pet owners have been known to plan elaborate funerals in which their cherished pet is displayed in an elegantly designed casket and then buried in a professionally landscaped pet cemetery underneath a meticulously crafted pet headstone. To someone used to the more simpler traditions of the past, such animal memorials may seem almost comical (in fact, in countless television shows and movies, the modern practice of staging a elaborate animal memorial service is belittled and ridiculed), but, as we note above, if the practice results in an emotional healing for those involved, then any criticism is unwarranted. The basic rule of thumb in deciding whether to organize a sophisticated animal memorial is the emotional needs of the family. Many families – or at least some members of a family – will have a strong emotional attachment to their beloved lost pet, and, in such cases, the only healthy thing to do is to arrange a memorial service that is a fitting memory for the special friend.
Photographs make excellent additions to animal memorials. In fact, many animal memorials are made up entirely of meaningful photographs. One innovative product, for example, is a digital picture frame that is capable of randomly displaying thousands of precious family photos of a particular pet. This frame can be adorned with a bronze plaque that displays the pet's name and any special words the family wishes to impart in his or her memory. Many families have bought such a frame to assure that their home's living area will have a permanent animal memorial that will remind all family members and visitors alike of the important role the special pet played in the family's life. Likewise, photographs can be incorporated into animal memorials in many other ways as well. A great number of animal cremation urns can be personalized in some way with a picture of the beloved friend. In many cases the urn will be designed with a special place to display a photo, and in still others, the picture can be engraved or baked directly into the urn. This type of animal memorial can be among the most meaningful simply because it includes an eternal image of the faithful friend. Photographs can be installed into grave markers as well. These ceramic plates are adorned with full-color pictures (black and white options are also available, of course) that have been kiln fired into the clay for a strong, beautiful piece that will last the ages as part of headstone that pet cemetery visitors will see for decades to come. The bottom line is that, when it comes to animal memorials, there are plenty of options available for remembering your pet with grace and dignity today, and experts recommend it as a very healthy thing to do.
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