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Published: Nov 30, 2012

Losing a pet is never easy, and it's likely to come with a lot of grief and a long healing process. But you can ease some of the pain of pet loss by holding a nice ceremony for your cat or dog. It may seem odd to have a funeral for your pet, but for many dog and cat owners, a four-legged companion is like a family member and deserves a memorial service as a way of saying thanks for all the good years.

Cremation or burial
If your pet has been brought to one of your nearby vet clinics to be euthanized, then your vet may give you an option of taking the body or having her cremated. In either scenario, you can hold a touching ceremony. If you choose to take the body, then you may want to purchase a box or small coffin to bury the animal in. Consider adding a few beloved toys to the casket, or placing a can or baggie of the pet's favorite food to accompany her. If you opt for cremation, you may want to keep the ashes in your home as a reminder of your old friend, or you can choose to spread them among her favorite places. For a cat, this might mean the backyard of your own home, while a dog's ashes can be spread at a nearby park or hiking trail.

The ceremony as a grieving process
The ceremony you hold for your pet should be both a time to remember her life as well as a period when you and your family can openly grieve about your loss. Remember that if your pet had a dog or cat illness, like feline leukemia or cancer in dogs, then her passing was likely a release from suffering. Allow this thought to bring you some brief comfort, but spend the majority of your ceremony talking about the things you enjoyed doing with your pet. You may find yourself laughing at some of the memories you have - this is a good thing, as remembering your dog or cat should be pleasant.

Later on down the road
Over time, your pain will ease and you will move on from your pet's death. However, you should still feel free to pay respect to the burial site or the location where you spread her ashes. If you find yourself missing your pet, then visiting her resting place may make it easier to cope with your sadness.