PLPA-Guide to Planning Ahead (For the Death of a Pet)

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Lynn Henderson

A Guide to Planning Ahead –

*** The original for this document can be found at ***

A Tribute to My Pet’s Life

Pet’s Name ____________________________________

Birth date/Gotcha Date—Date of Death ____________________________________

Where born/Where Gotcha’d ____________________________________

Nicknames ____________________________________

Pet Parents ____________________________________

Siblings—Pet and Human ____________________________________ ____________________________________

Favorite Toy(s) ____________________________________

Favorite Activity(s) ____________________________________

Least Favorite Thing ____________________________________

Other friends ____________________________________ ____________________________________

Favorite Place to Sleep ____________________________________

Favorite Food ____________________________________

Favorite Memories

____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________

With the choices of memorialization items that have been made, we want the following unique personalization:

____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________

Preparing yourself in advance for the death of your pet, while emotionally taxing, is a wise and thoughtful thing to do. Certainly none of us likes to think of that day, the day our heart will be broken into a million pieces. Thinking about this ahead of time will give you and your family the opportunity to discuss how you would like to memorialize your beloved pet and to celebrate the life that you all shared together.

There are numerous elements to think about regarding the death of your pet and your final wishes. Take this time to reflect upon what your pet will need in respectful death care treatment, as well as the support you will need as a grieving pet parent. Making sure that your beloved pet is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve will be of the utmost importance at this time.


Knowing the various options will relieve much of the stress you may have in ensuring what you do is appropriate to
not only honor the life of your pet, but to ensure that they are receiving the care and treatment in death that was important to you for them in life.

Final Arrangements

(Please see our other blogpost about your cremation options)

The final arrangement wishes for my pet’s body is: (circle one)     Burial or Cremation

Influences to help shape your decision for burial or cremation are:


If burial, where? (circle one)   Home     or     Friend’s Home      or      Local Pet  Cemetery

Areas of consideration with this decision are:

  • Will this town/county/development allow pet burials? __________________

  • Will you always live in this area or have access to this burial ground?_________

  • Do your religious preferences guide you in one way or another?______________

  • Did your pet like the outside or the inside? ___________________________

  • For burial, will you want a casket to protect the pet’s body? (circle one)     yes or no

  • If cremation, will you want the ashes returned? (circle one)       yes or no

  • If this answer is no, you need to ask your pet death care provider for a “group” cremation or “communal” cremation. Your pet will be cremated with other pets and their ashes will be scattered in a designated area.

  • For cremation, is it important to you to have your pet’s body cremated alone in the crematory? (circle one)       yes or no

If this answer is yes, many death care providers will have the option of a “private” cremation. Your pet’s body will be solo in the crematory, ensuring that the returned ashes are only your pet.

Many death care providers will provide a tracking system through the cremation process, a “tag” with a unique number that will accompany the pet’s body. To ensure the safety, security and authentication of the cremation process, inquiring on this
part of your pet death care provider’s policy will give you the peace of mind in knowing about the care of your pet’s mortal remains.

Service Options

Many families will also want to have one last time to visit their pet after death, a visitation or wake, if you will. While this may seem like a trivial thing—or possibly something that you consider morbid and odd—this one last time with your pet is valuable time spent. A time to see your pet at peace. A time for your children to pay tribute by bringing in items that was special to your pet.


A time to begin the grief journey and to say that final goodbye.

Many times, other friends, family members, and other pets in the household will want to have their final goodbye with your pet too. Pets touch so many people during their short lives with us. Allow those around you the opportunity to come together, pay their respects and support each other.

My family and I will want a final goodbye time with our pet: (circle one)     yes or no

Occasionally families will take this final goodbye time to incorporate their important family/religious rituals. Rituals may include:

  • Special readings

  • The planting of a tree/flower/bush

  • Rituals you and your pet did to say “I love you”

  • Scripture readings

  • A candle-lighting tribute

  • A donation drive for a local shelter in memory of your pet

  • Reading of special poems and remembrances

  • Playing audio tapes of their meow/ bark/chirp

• Sharing videos of the pet and your family

• Reading a eulogy to remember your pet’s life with your family

The following rituals are important and will be included in our final goodbye time together: ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________

Memorialization Options

Making a decision on memorialization products is a personal process. This will
be reflective of the life shared with your pet, your life style, your personal style and those items that are reflective of your pet’s personality. It’s also important to take into consideration where your memorialization pieces will go in your home, or in your yard, and how you want the item to look, either blending in with your decor or making an individual statement. In addition, if you have a large pet family, consider a piece where all of the pets can be together.

There are various memorialization products:

  • Rocks/garden flagstones

  • Jewelry that would have the pet’s own paw print or nose print on it

  • An urn that is reflective of your decorating style

  • An eco-friendly urn for burial in a special location

  • An urn with paw prints to show your love of animals

  • A piece of art done to depict the pet’s personality

  • A personalized urn made to look like the pet

  • A frame to hold a cast of your pet’s paw print, nose print and/or locket of hair

  • Locket jewelry to hold a bit of the pet’s ashes or hair

  • Memorial note cards


When you think about your pet—what makes you smile?

A nickname:

• “He was our little Buddy-Wuddy” • “Squirrelly-Girly-Shirley”
• “Whit”
• “Sweetie Pie”

A saying:

• “Hiding sox in heaven”
• “Our First Born”
• “Always Chasing Frisbees and Hearts” • “She’s My Girl, Daddy”

• Birth date/Gotcha date to death date

A photo:

  • Personal paw print or nose print

  • A way to show your pet’s love of their favorite—a bone, slice of pizza or possibly a cookie

The desired memorialization items to re- member our pet are: ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________

The personalization of your memorial pieces will truly make them as unique as your relationship was with your pet. From an inscription on an urn or jewelry piece to the saying on a rock or marker, your sentimental words will create a true reflection of the love that you have for your special pet. Hearing other friends and family member’s stories is certainly a wonderful way to reflectively pay tribute to your pet and get everyone involved in honoring their life.

This is a document written and provided by the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance and the original can be found at *** ***


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