Most Americans would agree that tradition has changed from the not-so-distant past when it was standard practice for family pets to be unceremoniously buried in the yard or a nearby natural area - marker optional. There is much discussion and even research about the why’s and how’s of the evolution of pets as part of the family, but for pet parents the heart already knows what the research shows … we love our animal family members deeply and will go to lengths to keep them healthy, treat their illnesses, and to remember them when they’re gone.
Like the old burial traditions, pet memorial options have evolved, too. There are familiar fixtures like personalized garden stones or benches, a specially placed photo or a spot on the mantel for an urn. But, in an effort to find comfort in the face of loss, pet parents are turning to a new variety of personally meaningful remembrances, some of which cost big bucks.
1. Burial, Interment & Funeral Services $90 - $3,000+
Formerly reserved for humans, pet funeral services now are an option for grieving families. Whether an intimate service at home, or a viewing at the funeral parlor, the full scope of traditional services and accompaniments (like fully dressed caskets and floral arrangements) are available, with over 300 listings nationwide for pet cemeteries. However, cremation is still the most popular means of handling a deceased pet. Increasingly easier to come by, for around $200, columbariums provide an affordable way to permanently inter ashes. For those considering a columbarium, it will be important to check the size of the vault before ordering a specialty urn.
2. Memorial Art $200 - $3,500+
For that once-in-a-lifetime pet, a commissioned art piece may be the ultimate tribute. By sharing a few photos of your dog or cat, an artist can create a life like plush sculpture of your pet starting around $1,800. There are also foundries that will produce cremain-infused glass sculptures, urns, vases, or stained glass panels either of their design (starting around $200) or tailored to your specification. And, while it may be common knowledge that artists are available to paint a portrait of fur babies past and present, did you know that ashes can be mixed with the paint used to create said portrait?
3. Memorial Jewelry $15 - $17,000
Websites like etsy.com showcase an array of simple and affordable engraved or otherwise personalized trinkets in a variety of styles and materials. Pet parents can take the customization a step further by opting for glass beads that incorporate the pet’s ashes for about $85 per bead. For those with aching hearts and deep pockets, a memorial manufactured diamond crafted from your beloved’s cremated remains can be purchased for $750 for about 0.0275 carat, up to $17,000 for a 2 carat stone.
4. Extraordinary Services $850 - $10,000
Sadly, in most states it is against the law to bury human and animal remains together. But a few out-of-this-world companies give pet parents the chance to plan for a combined burial…of sorts. For the avid outdoors person, or retired military or police personnel, combined (or individual) cremains can be turned into live ammunition for use in a salute, hunt or other activity that may have had meaning for the deceased. If conservation is a passion, there is a service that will incorporate remains into a coral reef habitat. According to the company’s website, including pets within this tribute is the number one request they receive. For those who prefer to look skyward, consider one of the space flights that can deliver “a symbolic portion” of remains to the Earth’s orbit where it will descend as a shooting star, or send your loved one all the way to the moon in a tribute you can gaze upon forever.
Wherever your budget falls, it is surely our memories of the four-legged companions we’ve lost that carry the truest and deepest meaning. Of the multitude of options (DIY, purchased or commissioned), what have been some of your most meaningful tributes for a pet kid? Please share your personal stories in the comments section below.