I’ve always loved animals since I was young and never had a home that I didn’t share with a furry critter or two. Cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, gerbils, frogs and whatever else you might venture to tame hold a special place in our hearts as we grow to love and care for them. They are our friends, companions and most of all, part of our families. That’s why its so hard when one of our pets leave us for the big animal kingdom in the sky leaving us to search for the perfect memorial gesture to say goodbye. Grieving for their loss is often particularly sensitive to children who may be experiencing this sad feeling for the first time so its important to recognize the pet’s passing in a way that allows them to adjust and express how their feeling.
Last fall, we went through the loss of our fourteen year old Siamese cat named Ricky. Being a particularly vocal and affectionate member of the household, his passing was hard for everyone, including my sons. We thought about what we could do to remember the adorable feline and came up with an idea that not only would represent his spirit but also signify that he would always be a part of family.
Planting a tree is a wonderful way to honor a pet’s death and encourages children to understand what they’re feeling on the inside is normal and all part of the circle of life. Often, if difficult emotions aren’t recognized, it’s possible for kids to reject the notion of getting a new pet because of their fear of feeling the mourning all over again. Erecting a token in their memory allows kids to release their grief in a healthy way while encouraging the thought that the animal will always remain in their hearts.
We decided that the best variety to plant for Ricky was a Japanese Weeping Willow Tree. The leaves change a variety of colors during the year and flower with pretty blossoms in the springtime. Everyday while walking up our sidewalk to the font door, we are reminded of how wonderful our kitty was and smile knowing that his spirit is still alive in our home.