Part 5 in our 5-part series on pet loss
- Part 1: How to Emotionally Prepare for the Death of a Pet
- Part 2: Helping Family Members Grieve the Death of a Pet
- Part 3: Healthy, Healing Ways to Cope with Pet Loss
- Part 4: 6 Practical Ways to Support a Friend Who Has Lost a Pet
By Denise Lee Branco, guest author
To lose a beloved pet is excruciating. It doesn’t matter whether it happened suddenly or if preparation for the hardest day was in motion. It hurts. Really hurts. The pain bleeds deep into our soul.
But what if we could turn heartache into heart joy?
What if we could find a way to thank our pet for all that they’ve done to enhance our lives each and every day? What if our healing begins with a gift?
I personally know that putting my innermost thoughts and feelings in writing helps me cope with devastating loss. Writing allows me to express gratitude and not leave anything unsaid. It is an outlet that helps me preserve memories onto paper so those memories will never fade.
I’d like to offer you a G-I-F-T that will help you begin your own journey toward healing. These ideas will aid in creating a treasured keepsake for you and your family.
G – Gather photos of your pet or special items that’ll bring back memories of your life together.
Photos such as from the day you first met, places visited, funny moments, favorite toys, playtime, all lend themselves to being great subject matter.
I – Imagine scenes based on the photos and items that you gathered.
They will serve as story prompts for your writing. Start by creating a chronological list of those ideas and allow your writing to free flow. Just get it down on paper or in a Word document. You can always add and organize later.
If you’re more comfortable with having structure, prepare a detailed outline of key areas that you want to write about and the order in which you envision your project unfolding.
F – Find lessons and reasons.
I’m a firm believer that every one of our pets arrives in our lives precisely at the right time. We may not realize it at that moment, but they are always chosen specifically for us.
As you’re writing and expressing gratitude for the unconditional love your pet gave and cherished moments shared, think about lessons learned.
- What did your pet teach you?
- Is there something in life that you couldn’t have gotten through without the love of a pet?
- Do you have regrets? Those are lessons, too. They’re how we grow as pet parents. Your pet doesn’t fault you at all. He loved you and knew that you did your very best to give him a great life.
T – Treasured keepsake.
Your writing is completed, and now, you will decide how you’d like to preserve your tribute. Will it be in gratitude or love letter form only?
Another option would be to take a three-ring binder or photo album, cut and paste your words next to the associated photo, and personalize with adornments from a craft store.
You could even turn your work into a book. Why not? Books are something tangible that you can hold and share special stories about your beloved pet.
Every life has meaning. The highest honor we can give our pets is to tell their story. By doing so, we see that our life was enriched forever by a precious soul with fur and four legs.
Isn’t that the greatest gift of all?
Denise Lee Branco is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, animal advocate, and certified pet loss grief specialist-individual. She lives in Northern California and loves leisure biking, foods with melted cheese, and spoiling her three rescued felines. Visit her at DeniseInspiresYou.com
Love your article. I have seen on ETSY, an online site of mostly handcrafted items, jewelry, that includes whiskers and/or hair from your pet. That might be another way to memorialize your pet. A part of him could then be with you when you wear the jewelry.
This is so beautiful! I Love how these ideas are presented and I think if I were grieving the loss of a pet I would find these words so very comforting, easy to follow, and helpful. Thank you!
My niece just lost her young maltopoo named Maya a couple months ago, just after we visited, sharing our Shih Tzu puppy for great family memories. Maya died rather suddenly from a bowel lymphoma after a week in hospital. We have included a sweet picture of her in our holiday card. What a great article by Denise Lee Branco!