The passing of a pet can be just as heartbreaking as that of a human being for most people. Pets are often our best friends and even considered family members. They are with us through all kinds of life events, from birthdays to breakups, and support us through each one. They make us feel less alone and always know how to cheer us up on a bad day. Pets see us at our best and our worst, but love us regardless.

Everyone grieves differently when they lose a loved one. Here a few thoughtful ways to honor and say goodbye to your pet when they pass. We hope these will provide you comfort during the mourning process and help you feel a lasting connection to your furry friend.

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1. Plant a Tree

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Trees can be beautiful living memorials for your deceased pet. Like a pet, you have to nurture and care for your tree, and you also get to watch it grow. One Green Planet’s founder, Preeta Sinha, described her own experience with this living memorial: “My beloved family dog and my mom’s second daughter, Munchkin, left her animal body at the age of 16. My parents honored her life by burying her along with an Indian Gulmohar tree seedling and today 11 years later Munchkin’s spirit lives on as a beautiful thriving tree in the suburbs of Mumbai, India shining light on us. She’s with us every day.”

Putting your pet’s ashes directly into the soil on their own isn’t the best idea because the ashes will increase the soil’s pH, and thereby, make it difficult for plants to live there. However, there are ways to counterbalance this effect by adding appropriate amounts of acidic components, such as coffee grounds, compost, or fertilizers. If you go this route, make sure to wait and test the soil’s pH before planting your tree.

If you’re worried about disturbing your soil in the DIY method, you can instead order a bio urn. These companies will usually provide instructions, components to mix in so the ashes don’t harm your soil, a bio urn, and a seed or seedling. Some companies that offer these packages include, The Living Urn®, BioUrn, and BIOS. Rooted Pet also offers an eco-friendly recomposition project in which you can send your pet’s ashes for them to convert into soil and they will plant a tree in your pet’s honor.

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2. Bury Them at a Pet Cemetery

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Burying pets in one’s own backyard is legal in most states; however, there are regulations that one may have to follow depending on the state that they live in. For those who would rather bury than cremate their pet, but can’t or don’t want to do it on their own property, pet cemeteries are the perfect option. Like any cemetery, you can visit to mourn and honor your deceased pet, as well as bring flowers or other items to decorate your pet’s grave. There are over a hundred around the US that accept all different types of animals. If you’re looking for one in your state, take a look at this directory of pet cemeteries.

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3. Scatter Their Ashes Somewhere Special

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If you and your pet used to go on a special hike or walk together, consider scattering their ashes there. Even if your pet wasn’t one to venture far out into the world, you can still find a place that you think they would have liked, or simply one that is comforting to you and nice to visit when you want to feel connected to them. You can even hold a ceremony to provide some closure. Before scattering the ashes, make sure you get permission. Many national parks, for example, allow people to scatter ashes of pets and other loved ones, however, they have certain regulations about where and when one can do so.

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4. Buy or Create Plaques, Artwork, and Other Memorabilia

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There are so many different kinds of memorial art pieces that you can get to honor your pet after they pass. You can commission an artist to paint your pet, get an engraved stone in your pet’s honor, or even get a stuffed animal replica of your pet based on one of your photos. Some artists will also make art using your pet’s ashes, including Spirit Pieces glass art, Cremation Portraits, Ashstone Memorial rocks, Eternal Ware pottery, Artful Ashes glass art, and Just Hourglasses. If you’re looking for a less expensive DIY approach, try making a photo book, a montage, or a collage of your pet. Before your pet is buried or cremated, you could also make a flour-salt dough pawprint to remember them.

5. Urn

cat urn

Source: Heavens Happy Meadow-Feline Urn/Amazon.Com

Another traditional option for honoring your pet after they pass on is putting their ashes in an urn. You can present it on your mantle, a table, or shelf, or keep it tucked away as a more private memorial. There are so many different styles to choose from depending on what you think would fit in your home and best honor your pet. You can even get a custom urn or decorate a simple urn on your own for a unique, individualized memorial.

6. Jewelry

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Having a piece of jewelry that reminds you of your pet can make you feel less alone once they’re gone. For a DIY approach, you can attach collar tags or other memorabilia to a keychain. You can also get jewelry that physically holds your pet’s ashes. There are urn necklaces, rings, keychains, and bracelets as well as companies that will create lab-grown diamonds from your pet’s ashes, such as Lonité, Eterneva, and EverDear & Co. Having your pet’s ashes in a piece of jewelry can provide a sense of comfort as you will always have your pet with you.

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7.  Support Other Animals 

One of the best ways to honor someone’s memory is to help others. In this way, their memory lives on and positively impacts countless lives. If you are in the position to do so, you could consider adopting or fostering another animal – not as a replacement, but as a way to open your heart to another animal who needs a home and someone to love them. If you can’t or don’t want to adopt, you can volunteer or donate to an animal shelter or sanctuary. A few other options include raising awareness about an animal rights issue, like breeders; buying an item of which the proceeds go to help animals; or helping others cherish their pets, like the person that left tennis balls at the park for other dogs to enjoy.

We encourage everyone thinking of getting a pet to adopt instead of shop. Read more resources about adopting animals on One Green Planet, including 7 Reasons to Adopt Your Next Furry Best Friend5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Adopt a Pet, and These Heartwarming Before and After Pictures of Adopted Rescue Animals Will Make Your Day! Read tips for pet adoptions and what to consider before adopting an animal. We recommend using these apps to find shelter dogs near you!

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