At Space Coast Pet Services, we know that your animals are your family. It is devastating to lose a pet and finding a way to cope with that loss. Saying goodbye to any family member, including your beloved pet, is a painful event to process. Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day on August 28 designates a day devoted to remembering the furry, feathered, scaly companions we’ve lost.
Deborah Barnes, a celebrated author, blogger, and cat advocate began Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day in honor of her cat, Mr. Jazz who died on August 28, 2013. In her grief, Deborah realized that pet parents need to be allowed to grieve and to honor their furry loves. There was an outpouring of support following her own loss, so it was evident to Barnes that our animals are so much more than just pets. Where does the name come from? Pet parents everywhere have become familiar with the term Rainbow Bridge, which is used to describe the place that pets go when they pass on.
Taking time and creating a place to remember your lost love will help over time to make losing them easier to manage. Deciding to remember your furry pet and even simply the act of thinking about observing Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day can play a part in the grieving and healing process.
Ways to Observe Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
- Allow yourself time to remember and enjoy the memories of your friend. Watch videos and look at pictures.
- Volunteering is also a great way to remember your beloved. If you’re ready and have processed their death enough to be comfortable, consider visiting an animal shelter.
- Use #RainbowBridgeRemembranceDay to share on social media. Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day also has a Facebook page that you can share pictures and chat with others who are missing their pets.
How to Honor and Cope
Below are suggestions on how to honor and cope with the loss of your dear four-legged or two-winged love so that joy can begin replacing grief.
Family and Friends
Share your feelings with people who understand and care. After losing your cherished buddy, reach out to family and friends for a sympathetic ear. It’s important to acknowledge and voice your feelings, especially during this difficult time. There are also support groups that may help you connect with others who are mourning the loss of a pet. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement lists several groups meeting in Florida.
When we asked online for local resources that pet parents in Melbourne, Viera, and beachside have found helpful, they provided the following recommendations:
- Laura Beers (321) 751-4766. She is a human and pet grief support through mediumship counseling.
- Karen Cohen, a certified animal chaplain who works with many of our local vets in dealing with pet loss.
- The Pet Loss Center, which has a location in Melbourne, FL.
- The Brevard Humane Society, with locations in Cocoa, Melbourne, and Merritt Island.
- Lap of Love offers a complimentary national hotline available to those that are anticipating or grieving the loss of their beloved pet. The number is (813) 407-9441 and is open Monday – Friday from 10am – 9pm. Check out their website for more resources.
- Rainbow Bridge Grief Support Center also has a pet loss support online forum as well as other resources.
Several pet services centers offer cremation, and your veterinarian can walk you through the process. Also, according to the 2018 Florida Statutes, domestic animals need to be buried at least two feet underground. The statute does not list restrictions on whether the property where the pet is buried needs to be residential or commercial.
Having a memorial service can be a therapeutic way to process the death of a treasured companion. Here are some ideas for the service:
- Consider having a candle-lighting ceremony
- Share memories, blessings, and prayers
- Display pictures and videos
- Say a final goodbye
After the funeral, memorializing your furry friend is a good next step in the grieving process.
Donations to Animal Charities
Making a donation to a reputable animal welfare organization in your pet’s name provides two benefits; it honors your pet while helping others.
Open Up Your Home Once Again
Celebrate the home you provided and the joy your beloved companion brought you in return. When you are ready, you will know the time has arrived to find a new ‘critter’ to replace the emptiness you felt. There are many animals yet to find a home, and in time you can be their new home. Considering a puppy? Check out our tips here.
Memorializing Your Pet
Have a plaque made with a picture of your beloved or create a scrapbook documenting the fond memories you had with your pet. Display the plaque or album in a meaningful place in your home. Doing this provides you with a way to remember the happy times you had with them for years to come.
Fur/Paw Memorial Items
There are many options for preserving fur as a memorial. You can purchase lockets, jars, memorial boxes, and vials that allow a physical piece of your dear friend’s life to stay with you. There are also paw print items you can have made. If your veterinarian was involved in planning the last days of your companion’s life, they will often provide a stamp of your pet’s paw print.
You can also have the paw print added to a stone you can place in a garden as a memorial. There are special frames that allow you to include a picture and the paw print. Both fur and paw print memorial items can be planned ahead of time if you know your companion’s last days are near.
Our team at Space Coast Pet Services is here to support you during your loss. One of the very hardest parts of this job we love so much is when we learn of the passing of one of our client’s pets. We have spent time and formed a bond with your fur babies and we also mourn their loss deeply. When you’re ready, we would love to get to know your newest addition. Contact us for a meet and greet so that when you need us, you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your fur baby already knows us.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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