Losing a beloved pet is never easy, no matter the circumstances. Whether your pet was old or young, ill or in good health, your time with a pet always feels too short. More and more, society is coming to accept the fact that pet death is a serious source of grief. And as part of that grieving process, you might want to announce his or her death to friends and family—just as you would following the loss of a human loved one.
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A pet death announcement is a way to respect and celebrate the life of your pet and share how much they meant to you. And it’s often important to let the people in your life know that you’ve experienced a personal loss, even if they didn’t know your pet. If family members or friends did know your pet, a death announcement also allows them to begin their own grieving processes.
But how do you go about writing a pet death announcement? In this article, we’ll outline what you should include in a death announcement for a pet and provide you with a clear, step-by-step guide.
Steps for Writing Your Pet’s Death Announcement
Whether you’re writing a pet death announcement to send by mail, email, or as a social media post, the steps are much the same. And writing a pet death announcement is very similar to creating a death announcement for a human family member or friend. But death announcements aren’t something most of us write on a regular basis.
Here are some steps to follow if you’re writing a pet death announcement.
1. Take some time for yourself
You don’t have to announce the death of your pet right away. In fact, it’s generally better to wait at least a couple of days to do so. This gives you a chance to begin to process the event for yourself and come to grips with what it means. Turning to social media, email, or even letter-writing right away can be overwhelming, and it can distract you from your own experience.
After the death of your pet, make a time investment in rest and self-care, as well as journaling about your emotions. It can also help to spend quality time with one or a few close friends or family members who can understand your loss and don’t try to minimize it.
2. Let close family and friends know
Consider who you have in your life who might experience grief at the news of your pet’s death. Maybe you have a niece or nephew who always played with your pet when they came over for dinner. Or maybe your best friend always pet sat for you when you went out of town.
It’s important to let these people know about your pet’s death personally before you post or send out a more wide-spread announcement. It’s also these people who you may want to spend time with immediately after your pet’s death, before you start writing a death announcement, as mentioned above.
3. Choose a method
These days, most people post their pet death announcements on social media, and that may be the method you choose, too. But if you don’t often use social media, or you’d rather just make the announcement to specific people, you can send an email or old-fashioned letter. You can even use social media but just send your announcement as a direct message to select individuals instead of posting it to your entire feed.
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to stick with just one means of communication. And that includes social media sites: if you post the announcement on Instagram, avoid cross-posting it to Facebook or Twitter. You likely have many of the same followers and friends on both sites, and you don’t want to overwhelm them with death announcements.
You should also post the announcement to a family-and-friends-only account, and not one you share with employers or use for work in any way.
4. Pick a photo
Next, pick just one photo that you want to include with your death announcement. It can feel next to impossible to choose just one, but a single photo is more suitable for this kind of letter or social media post.
Choose a photo of your pet or you and your pet that brings back fond memories. As much as possible, avoid choosing a photo that brings up feelings of guilt or greater feelings of grief. Of course, seeing photos of your departed pet will never be easy, especially right after the death.
Choose a photo that’s more recent and readily available, rather than poring through all of your photos of your pet. Right now, doing that will cause more heartache than you need to put yourself through.
5. Keep it short and sweet
You love and miss your pet more than anything, but it’s important to remember that the readers of your pet’s death announcement don’t have the same passion for your pet.
Because they’re friends with you, they’ll be interested to know that your pet passed away, and they’ll want to offer condolences. As mentioned, some of your friends and family might also have their own fond memories of your pet. But they still won’t want to read a death announcement that’s too long and personal.
Instead of going into detail about your relationship with your pet — how you first found each other, all the experiences you’ve had together — limit your post to a sentence or two. It should express, in short, what it meant to you to have such a friend, and what losing them means to you. If you need some inspiration, you might turn to pet loss poetry or other writing about pet loss. We will also provide some examples below.
You can also include the pet’s birth date and death date, as you would with a human family member or friend. If you don’t know the pet’s birthday, you can use his or her adoption date.
6. Provide information if you’re having a memorial.
With pet death and the grief it causes growing less and less taboo, many pet owners choose to hold pet funerals or memorial services. Because most pets are cremated, your memorial might include an ash burial, inurnment, or an ash scattering ceremony. Or it might be a simple gathering of loved ones to honor your pet.
In the death announcement, consider whether you should include information about the memorial (like the place and time). If you’re posting your announcement to social media, you’ll likely want to send private messages only to the people you want to invite. But if you’re sending paper announcements or emails, you might add that information to the announcement itself.
7. Follow up with responses
After they receive your pet death announcement, your friends and family will likely respond with sympathy and condolences. It’s important to follow up with those messages, whether it’s online, by phone, or by mail, and thank people for their support.
Additionally, some might want to know where and how they can send a pet sympathy or condolence gift. You can provide them with that information, or you can request that they donate to a local animal shelter instead.
Pet Death Announcement Examples
Pet death announcements still aren’t something you see all that regularly. And without examples, it can be hard to envision what one should look like or sound like. So here are some examples of pet death announcements, for social media, email, and a funeral announcement, to help get you started.
Example for social media
My best friend and closest confidant. You will live on forever in my heart and memory.
Lulu: September 20, 2009 - April 6, 2020
Example for an email
Dear family and friends,
We lost our beloved Lulu on Wednesday at 3:15 PM. As many of you know, she had been fighting cancer for many long months. We will miss her dearly, but we’re glad to know she’s at peace now.
With a heavy heart,
The Peterson Family
Example announcement with a funeral or memorial service
Friends and family:
Our sweet Lulu passed away on Wednesday after her long battle with cancer. She was a member of our family, and as such, we will be holding a memorial in her honor.
We invite you to join us at Applebark Park at 3:00 PM on April 5th to celebrate Lulu’s life. Please RSVP to Lucy Peterson.
Creating a Living Memorial
If a one-time death announcement doesn’t feel sufficient, you might consider creating a living online memorial for your pet. An online memorial is a lasting place on the internet dedicated just to your loved one, and you can add to it whatever you want.
For a pet’s online memorial, you could include more photos of your pet than you were able to include in the death announcement, as well as a longer description of your companion.
An online memorial will also give family and friends the opportunity to write in a virtual “guest book,” where they can share their own memories and photos of your pet. You can even add a fundraiser or charity donation feature to many online memorial sites, so your visitors can donate to a cause like ASPCA or a local animal shelter.
When all is said and done, the way you grieve your pet is entirely up to you, and it depends on what feels right in the situation. Remember to take the time to grieve, and know that how you’re feeling is normal after the loss of a pet.