A memory box or a keepsake box is used to store mementos of a particular time in your life. They’re also a sweet way to store memories of a person who has died.
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Pets aren't people, but they’re often treasured members of their families. If your dog died, or if you had another beloved pet pass away, a memory box is a perfect way to pay tribute to them.
A memory box can also help you with your grieving process. You may not want to be faced with items that remind you of your pet every day, but it may feel disloyal to give those objects away. With a memory box, you can put those items to the side until you feel less raw.
Here, we break down some ideas of what you could place in a memory box for your beloved pet.
Items for a Dog’s Memory Box
Dogs are man’s best friend. When they die, it’s a truly devastating loss. Sometimes we have enough preparation that we can put together a dog bucket list before the end of their life.
Sometimes we don’t get that much warning. Either way, a memory box can help us cope with the loss of a furry friend.
1. Collar and leash
Many dog owners keep their dog’s leash by the front door for convenience. But after your dog dies, looking at the leash every day can be hard knowing she won’t be running to the door begging for a walk.
Put the leash, as well as the collar and tags she wore in a memory box. One day, you may feel up to getting another dog, and you might want to use the same collar and leash for them. One day you might want to donate them to another dog owner. Or you may want to hold onto them indefinitely.
A memory box gives you the time and space to make that choice.
Many vet clinics will offer to make a pawprint keepsake as part of their euthanasia services. These are typically done in clay, but they may be done as ink on paper as well.
While this is a thoughtful way to memorialize a pet, you may feel too emotional to look at it right away. Placing it in a memory box will give you the time and space to grieve before you revisit it.
Most dogs have several well-loved toys to play with. Some people might think a slobbery tennis ball could just get thrown away, but a dog owner may be unable or unwilling to part with it.
You can place any toys that your dog loved in the memory box, even something like a chewed-up bone.
If your fridge is adorned with pictures of you and your pup, you might feel too sad to eat. Don’t go on a grief diet. Instead, put those photos in your dog’s memory box.
One day, you’ll enjoy looking back at them and reminisce about the fun times you shared with your dog. Until that day comes, keep the photographs in the memory box so unexpected memories don’t derail your day.
5. Sympathy gifts
When your dog dies, you may find yourself inundated with pet sympathy gifts from loved ones. While this is a thoughtful gesture, it may be a little too much for you to deal with immediately.
You should still unwrap the gifts and send a thank-you note if you’re able to go navigate that emotionally. But after that, feel free to put those gifts in the memory box until you’re fully prepared to deal with the feelings they bring up.
Items for a Cat’s Memory Box
Cats are solitary creatures who don’t always greet you with the same enthusiasm as a dog. But what they lack in enthusiasm, they make up in personality. It may take them some time to warm up, but cats are full of love. Here, we discuss some items that you could place in a memory box for a cat.
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6. Collar and tags
Cats are notorious for being escape artists. Lots of indoor cats wear collars with tags and bells in case they manage to slip out of the home.
While those jangling bells can be annoying in the middle of the night, you may find you miss the sound once they go silent. Keeping them in your memory box allows you to hear that jingling bell again whenever you’re missing your four-legged friend.
Even the oldest cats usually have some toys they love to bat around and play with. You can round up the catnip mice, plastic balls with bells in them, and bottle caps and put them in your memory box.
Cats excel at hiding things so you don’t find them until you trip over them. Maybe keep the memory box accessible until you’ve rounded up their toy collection.
8. Sympathy cards
When your cat dies, you may receive several sympathy cards or letters with words of condolence and pet loss quotes. These notes undoubtedly come from a good place, but they can be a lot to deal with emotionally.
You can bundle these cards and letters together and keep them in your cat’s memory box until you’re ready to read them. Once you’ve had time to heal, these quotes and condolences may bring you a lot of comfort.
Cats often love to snuggle up with a warm blanket. If your cat had a blanket they loved, you can fold it up and place it in their memory box until you’re ready to use it again.
Many people opt to get their pets cremated, but when the time comes, they’re not ready to scatter the ashes. It can make everything feel too final.
You can place the urn with your cat’s ashes into a memory box until you feel ready to scatter their ashes. And if you never get to that point, that’s okay, too.
Items for Other Type of Pets’ Memory Box
Cats and dogs are the two most popular family pets, but they’re far from the only ones. Snakes, birds, rodents, turtles, and many other animals make wonderful pets that are worthy of being commemorated.
Here we talk about some less-traditional pets, and what items their memory box could hold.
If your pet bird dies, a feather is a lovely reminder of them to keep in a memory box. It may feel a bit morbid, but it’s not too different than holding onto the ashes of a cremated pet.
You can even incorporate them into a bouquet of faux flowers for a beautiful memento.
12. Wooden carving
While cats and dogs can be cremated, not every crematorium is open to cremating reptiles like snakes, lizards, or turtles.
If you can’t get your pet cremated but you want a physical representation of them, consider a wood carving. A small, intricately carved creature serves as a nice reminder of your unconventional pet.
13. Aquarium decor
Fish can be as special a pet as any other. Certain aquarium fish can live to be anywhere from three to five years old—a long time.
If you’re mourning your pet fish, you can keep aquarium decor like some pebbles or a castle in your memory box.
14. Rodent ball
Many people who own small rodents like hamsters or mice get clear plastic balls so they can roll around outside their cage.
These plastic balls can carry emotional significance and are worth preserving.
Dogs aren’t the only animals who like chew toys. Rabbits are a big fan of them, too.
If you had a pet rabbit, you can pack away their favorite toys in a memory box until you’re ready to decide what to do with them in the long term.
What Items Should You Put in a Memory Box for Your Pet?
When a pet dies, seeing certain items can trigger enormous sadness. But the day will come when you’ll want to think about your pet and remember the happy times you shared.
Creating a memory box will allow you to keep those items out of sight while you heal. But one day, when you’re ready, you’ll be able to revisit that memory box and recall your beloved pet. Memory boxes can be an incredibly important part of the healing process.