For anyone who has loved and lost an animal companion, the need for respectful grieving and memorials is clear. Animals fill a deep place in our lives; for children they are sometimes the closest friend and confidant, for seniors they are often a singular daily companion. All who share their lives with an animal find a unique personality and a bond that’s hard to replace when gone.
The second Sunday of September is designated as Pet Memorial Sunday by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, and for every year in which I’ve been in business, I’ve hosted a ceremony on this day dedicated to remembering our animal companions for anyone who has lost a pet.
This year the ceremony is on Sunday, September 12, 2010 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Melrose Cemetery in Bridgeville.
Rituals build community, creating a meeting ground where people can share deep feelings or…keep a solemn silence. This event is for anyone who may have experienced the loss of a beloved pet, no matter when the loss occurred.
I invite speakers to discuss our relationships with our pets before, during and after their death with topics such as “Our Last Moments Together”, “Our Initial Grief Response”, and “The Joys of Pet Companionship”.
Words of Tribute from Families About their Pets
These speakers are followed by a reading of “Words of Tribute” written by pet owners who attend.
I encourage participants to write a 50-word tribute to commemorate and remember the lives they shared with their special pets, and I have tips and examples on my website for composition.
Keeping a tribute to your pet to only 50 words can be a challenge, but limiting your remembrance to 50 words helps you to focus on the essential elements that made your pet special.
Also, attendance is usually between 30 and 40 persons, and I want to make sure everyone’s tribute is heard in the limited time scheduled for the gathering.
Families are also encouraged to bring a photo of their pet to be displayed during the ceremony.
In addition to the display of photos and reading of tributes at the event, Chebatoris is introducing the “Tribute Scroll”, a slideshow of photos and tributes electronically submitted by her families, which will be composed immediately after Pet Memorial Sunday and posted on her website for families to view as a memorial whenever they choose. A new Scroll will be composed each year including photos and tributes submitted by families that year.
For more information on the Tribute Scroll, please visit the Tribute Scroll page at www.ccpc.ws.
The Dove Release
Possibly the most moving part of the event is the dove release. After all the speakers and the readings and the candle-lighting ceremony, we release a flock of white doves to symbolize our ability to let go of our precious companions.
I’m so glad to be in my sixth year of hosting this ceremony. When I read through my thank you notes I could see how grateful people are, and many people return year after year even if they haven’t lost a pet.
The gathering will be held under a tent in the cemetery with light refreshments served afterward as families are invited to share their experiences with each other and speak to the presenters. The public is invited to attend, but I need an RSVP to know the number who wish to attend. Also, in order to provide a peaceful environment for all, it is not appropriate to bring live pets to this event.
RSVP and Words of Tribute by September 10
For more information or to RSVP, please visit the website at www.ccpc.ws or call me at 412-220-7800. The Pet Memorial Sunday page on the site includes an e-mail address as well as instructions for composing and sending your Words of Tribute.