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National Pet Memorial Day 2024: When & What It Is

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

sleeping cat statue on a memorial stone

To most owners, pets are a part of their family, rather than possessions or animals that we keep in the house. We become closely attached to them, which means the passing of a pet can be extremely difficult. It leads to similar feelings of bereavement and loss as losing a human family member.

National Pet Memorial Day, which was first established in 1972 by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, offers a day every year when owners can mark the passing of their beloved pets. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of September.

What and When Is National Pet Memorial Day?

Whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, or any other animal, losing a pet is challenging. National Pet Memorial Day gives owners and former owners the chance to remember the pets they’ve lost and celebrate the impact those animals had on their lives.

National Pet Memorial Day is held on the second Sunday of every September, which means the actual date changes every year.

frame with picture of dog, collar and burning candle on wooden table
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

How to Mark the Day

Some local pet cemeteries and even shelters or other groups may hold memorial services that you can attend. Alternatively, you can mark the day yourself in one of the following ways:

  • Donate: Shelters and rescues are constantly looking for money as millions of animals find their way into shelters every year. And every cent counts, so even if you can only afford a few dollars, donate to a local organization. They will appreciate the financial help.
  • Volunteer: Alternatively, you can donate your time. Most of the work at shelters and rescues is done by volunteers. They need people to feed, care for, and exercise animals. They may also need volunteers to fulfill home checks and other administrative duties. Ask local charities to see what kind of services they require to determine whether you can donate your time as a volunteer.
  • Adopt: If you have the space, time, and resources, consider adopting a new pet. A new pet won’t replace one that has passed away, but they can become a part of the family in the same way. Adopting an animal, rather than buying from a breeder, can provide a home for a pet that might otherwise spend its life in shelters or face euthanization.
  • Be Creative: To personally mark the loss of previous pets, get creative. Whether you make a scrapbook of old photos, write poetry, or even make a sculpture of your pet, it is a great way to remember them, both while completing your creative masterpiece and whenever you look at, read, or listen to it again.
  • Hold a Memorial Service: You could hold a memorial service and invite friends and family to take part. Attendees can speak a few words about their lost pets, or you can just chat about them around dinner.
  • Pamper Your Pets: While it is important to mark the passing of previous beloved pets, it’s also important not to forget the pets you still have. Pamper yours with extra-long walks, healthy treats, and plenty of love and attention.
a woman hugging a cat in a shelter
Image Credit: V2505, Shutterstock

How to Deal with the Grief of Losing a Pet

Losing a pet isn’t easy. Most of us spend time every day with our animals and the bond we create can become very strong. When the pet passes, it is upsetting, and it also causes emotional distress.

  • Take the Time to Process: It isn’t silly to get upset over losing a pet, and you do need time to process the loss. Let yourself cry and get upset about it and acknowledge that you have lost a loved one.
  • Focus on the Good Memories: If the end of your pet’s life was especially upsetting or difficult, it can be difficult to look back beyond this, but you should try and concentrate on the positive memories that you formed together, rather than the difficult ones. Remember the walks you went on or the times you spent on the sofa. Remember the odd quirks your cat had and smile about them.
  • Talk About It: If you don’t have somebody in your life to share the grief with, there are pet bereavement support groups and other groups that can help. They give you the opportunity to talk about your loss which, in turn, can help you process the grief appropriately.
  • Mark the Occasion: Funerals, memorials, and other activities and rituals that we take part in when people die help those left behind process the passing. You can hold similar events for pets, too. Whether you bury your pet in the garden or have them cremated and their ashes spread in a favorite spot, mark the occasion.

When Is Global Pet Memorial Day?

As well as National Pet Memorial Day, there is also a Global Pet Memorial Day. The global day is held on the second Sunday of every June.

When Is National Pet Day?

Marking the passing of lost pets is important, but it really is important to remember those who are still with us, and National Pet Day is a day to celebrate this. National Pet Day is held on April 4th and as well as being a day to celebrate the pets in our homes it is also a day to recognize the plight of homeless and abandoned pets. Events may be held near you to celebrate, or you can use the day as another opportunity to volunteer or donate to a local pet charity.

bones and photos of the man's deceased dog
Image Credit: umaruchan4678, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Pets are important. They provide companionship and are there for us during difficult times, as well as to celebrate happy times. They also help improve our physical and mental health. This close bond means that losing a pet is a traumatic experience, like losing a human family member, and National Pet Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember and celebrate all the pets we have lost. It is held on the second Sunday in September of every year.


Featured Image Credit: A.Luna, Shutterstock

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