Pet Funeral Arrangements: Here’s What Funeral Homes Should Know
Posted May 23, 2018
5 min read
Why should a funeral home begin to offer pet memorialization services, if they aren’t already?
There are two great reasons, says Jacob Terranova, Senior Content Writer at Frazer Consultants. A CRäKN partner, Frazer Consultants helps funeral professionals reimagine the funeral experience for their families through services including industry-leading funeral home website design, tribute video software, funeral stationery, digital register books, and more.
First, it’s a growing market. It’s estimated that about 65 percent of American households have pets today. That’s about 160 million cats, dogs, and other animals. “And today’s pets are more appreciated than ever before, too. It’s estimated that collectively we spend over $60 billion annually on our pets,” shares Terranova.
The pet funeral industry is large, too. “It’s estimated there are over 100 million dollars spent per year on pet funerals and memorial products. So it’s a good option to consider for a funeral home looking to increase their bottom line,” says Terranova.
The second reason: it’s about offering a relevant way to connect with families, since pets are now seen as members of the family. “Today, probably more so than ever, and especially with millennials, we treat pets like part of the family. And so obviously losing a pet will be a very emotionally challenging time,” says Terranova.
For funeral homes, it presents an opportunity to provide another meaningful service for the community. By memorializing and honoring a pet’s life, you can also possibly get people to understand the value of a funeral and the importance of such traditions.
Get Started: Preplanning For Pets
If your funeral home already offers pet memorial services, you can look to partner with local veterinary clinics which can help to assist families. Many funeral homes provide transportation services from the vet to the funeral home, for example.
Preplanning a pet’s funeral is just as important as preplanning a funeral for a person, says Terranova. “If they preplan, they won’t have to stress over the planning while they’re mourning the loss of their pet.”
Funeral homes can create informational packets to provide families with the information they need to make an informed decision. This isn’t just about burial or cremation, but options to memorialize a pet as well. There is a lot to consider when planning a service and families should think about.
As a starting point, Terranova says these are just things areas you can help families navigate:
- Burial or cremation
- Headstone or urn
- A funeral/memorial service
- Memorial products and/or mementos
Mementos in particular are a powerful way to establish a physical and emotional connection with a pet even though they are no longer with a family. “For me personally, when my golden retriever passed away, we chose to get a clay paw print memorial, a lock of his hair that was turned into a keepsake, and a memorial urn that has his photo attached,” says Terranova.
Terranova says some other popular memorial items include:
- Ink paw prints
- Memorial Jewelry
- Garden memorial stones
- Photo displays
- Display urns
- Memorial Wind Chimes
Helping Families to Mourn the Loss of A Best Friend
One important thing to keep in mind: losing a pet is a very real and painful experience. “Funeral homes should be conscious of that and even look to providing grief resources for families who’ve lost a beloved pet.”
Terranova says grief resources could include:
• Holding a pet loss memorial lunch or picnic • Offering literature or pamphlets that talk about pet loss grief • Creating or hosting a pet loss support group so families can make new friends, connect with others, and share the story of their pet’s life
Becoming a Trusted Resource for Families
Whether you are already offering some support services or are ramping up what you currently offer, there are many ways your funeral home can expand its knowledge on pet services. Terranova says funeral homes interested in offering pet memorial services should look to the NFDA and their Pet Cremation program, as well as the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC), which offers an accreditation program for funeral homes.
As far as organizations go, a funeral home can partner with the IAOPCC. “There’s a membership fee for signing up, but the IAOPCC offers a wide range of benefits for a funeral home, including continuing education, management consulting, and training programs,” he says.
There’s also the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance, which is a part of the ICCFA. “Like the IAOPCC, this organization requires a membership fee, but it offers a vast amount of resources and education for funeral homes interested in offering pet loss services,” he explains.
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