In Memoriam: Of Pet Plaques and Furry Farewells

Nowadays - and most fortunately - pets have become more than just house animals. They have ascended several rosters up and now claim their rightful spot as members of the family. And it is just right for them, as they bring their own contribution to the family table - proven by movies such as Marley & Me, and books such as Dewey, pets are harbingers of goodwill, empathy, and warmth and happiness, just by being their furry, eloquent selves.

That is why when a pet -whether by disease, old age, or of the dreaded moment that they have to be put to sleep - passes away, much bereavement is experienced and felt. Being family members as they were, they have left their mark (by the porch, the doorstep, by bed or the hearth) and countless other memories with the rest of the family... which leads to feelings of guilt (Was I a good master? Did I take care of Fluffy well enough?), denial (Fluffy is just sleeping, you'll see, he'll come around after a while...), and anger (Dr. Johnson's incompetence killed Fluffy!).

According to pet loss counselors, these are normal, and going through the pain of these emotions are actually beneficial; after all, these pets have been part of one's lives, and most, if not all, of the memories are associated with companionship, comfort, and unconditional love and acceptance. People who are not pet owners might not understand the sadness triggered by the loss of that bond, but that does not matter - the feelings are valid, and of extreme pain, but there are ways to deal with these. "Looking away"  or ignoring the loss of the pet will only make things worse. The only way is to acknowledge them, and go through the needed process of grieving. Lavishing the other surviving pets with love will help both human and animal deal with the loss.

One positive way to deal with the pain is by getting a sort of "memorial" for the departed pet. True, it will not get the furry critter back - memorial plaques after all help ground the incident of death with permanency - but it is with a bittersweet and fond way. These bronze or brass memorial plaques are not to be placed in cemeteries or mausoleums. Instead they are hung on walls or relegated to a place of honor in common rooms or areas in the house that the pet had frequented in the past. And in the same manner they ground the permanence of death, they also celebrate the beauty of commemorating a beautiful life. The plaques act as loving tributes to the affection for the deceased pet, and will be means to help re-direct the emotions of the bereaved, from denial and depression, to healthful acceptance and reverie.

And pet plaques - and other memorials, for that matter - are very convenient to acquire. A lot of web pages are devoted to providing services - from urns to sketches to photo albums - to ensure that the memory of Fluffy will not only remain much loved, but also, never forgotten.

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