After your pet has died, you may find there are special days during the year when you especially want to remember them or they’re in your thoughts a lot.
You might want to celebrate your pet’s birthday or do something special to mark the anniversary of the day they came to live with you or the day they died. Perhaps you want to include them in your Christmas celebrations or a day that has special meaning for your family.
Here we have put together 10 child-friendly ways to remember your pet on special days. Really though, these activities can be done on any day of the year – just pick the one that has the most meaning for you.
- Set up a special area to remember your pet
One lovely way to remember your pet is to set up a special area in your house or garden as a tribute to them.
It’s up to you what you put in this area. You could include a photo of your pet, some of their belongings, a letter you’ve written to them, or anything that reminds you of them.
You could sit in this special area for a while and let yourself remember happy times with your pet or even invite your whole family to sit together and share memories.
- Light a candle
In lots of cultures around the world, people light a candle to remember a loved one who has died. It’s a way of saying that the memory of them lives on and still burns bright.
Why not light a candle for your pet and think about your happy times with them while the flame burns?
Just make sure you ask a grown-up to help you with this and the flame is not left unattended.
- Make or write a card
If you enjoy creative activities, you could make a card for your pet or choose your favourite shop-bought design to write in.
Tell your pet how much you miss them on this special day and add it to their memory box.
Alternatively, you could pop the card on a shelf for everyone to see or take it to where your pet is buried or where you sprinkled their ashes.
It’s completely up to you what you do with the card, so just go with whatever feels right.
- Ask your friends and family to write down their favourite memories of your pet
Your family and friends may have their own special memories of times they shared with your pet.
How about asking them to write their favourite memory on a piece of paper for you? You could then fold up the memories and keep them safe in a pot or jar.
We love the idea of creating these origami hearts and writing a special memory inside each one.
- Make a memory box
A memory box can be a beautiful way to keep all the special things that remind you of your pet in one place.
If you haven’t already made one, you could spend the special day devoted to remembering your pet doing this activity.
We wrote a separate article about things you might want to include in your pet’s memory box.
- Create a digital memory board, box or book for your pet
Do you like using the computer to be creative? You probably have loads of pictures of your pet on your phone, in the cloud or on the hard drive of your computer.
One activity idea is to find your favourite pictures and turn them into a digital collage, board, memory box or photobook.
There are many different tools you can use to do this. Canva, for example, has some photobook templates or you can use a blank Canva template to make a collage.
You could also use a free service like Kindeo to turn your photos and videos – including those sent to you by other people – into a special message for your pet.
- Listen to music, watch a film or play a game
Doing something you enjoy like listening to music, watching a favourite film or playing a video game can help you to remember your pet in a positive, fun way.
Is there a particular song that reminds you of them? Is there a film that makes you feel happy (or even makes you cry)? Or maybe a video game that helps you think about your pet or takes your mind off your loss?
If you’re finding a special day without your pet tough, doing something you love might make it easier for you.
- Do something special with people who loved your pet too
If you have other family members or friends who are grieving for your pet too then how about arranging to do something together for the special day on which you want to remember your pet?
You could go out for a walk together, head to the park, enjoy a meal/picnic, do a new activity, visit a special place, or try something else entirely.
The only rule is that you all agree it’s a day to honour the memory of your pet.
- Plant a tree
One of our favourite ways of remembering a much-loved pet is to plant a tree, bush or some flowers for them.
It’s wonderful to see something live and thrive and to have a special place to visit that reminds you of your pet. Plus, plant life is great for the environment.
- Help a local animal shelter
There are so many animals that end up living in shelters and rescue centres. Depending on your age, you may be able to volunteer as a helper – perhaps walking dogs or cleaning out rabbits or guinea pigs. Sometimes, you need a grown-up with you to do this.
Even if you’re too young to do something hands-on at a shelter, how about trying to raise some money by making and selling cakes, doing a garage sale or even writing to local businesses to ask for their support?
You could donate any money you raise in the name of your own pet as a way of using their memory to do something good for animals in need.
Be kind to yourself
Grief is different for everyone.
Some people find special days like a pet’s birthday, the anniversary of the day they died or the first Christmas without them really tough to get through. Other people are surprised to find that special days are okay.
There’s no right or wrong. Sometimes an anniversary day is fine and other times, it can be upsetting. Your feelings may change from year to year, depending on what is going on in your life at the time.
The most important thing is that you are kind to yourself.
If you’re finding an anniversary or special day without your pet difficult, then try to talk to somebody about it.
Finding something to do to mark the day can be helpful and turn a sad occasion into a good memory.
Which of these activities would you like to try?
Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support