Give to an animal shelter, create a charm, or visit a sanctuary.

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Our pets are members of our families, which is why so many of us feel the loss of a four-legged friend so profoundly. There are ways to continue celebrating their lives even after they're gone, though. First and foremost, do what feels closest to your heart, whether that be creative memorykeeping ideas or choosing to support animals in need within your local community. "Animals bring so much love and joy to our homes, honoring them in a way best suited for your family is a personal decision," explains Marla Valentine, the co-director at Rock N' Rescue.

"[One] way to channel the sadness into the gift of love that they provided you [is] by giving back to others and continuing the cycle of hope and love!" adds Juli Cialone, the co-director at Rock N' Rescue. Here, discover meaningful ideas that can help you commemorate your pet's memory in your everyday life.

pet keepsake jar
Credit: ASHLEY POSKIN

Give to a local animal shelter.

Julie Castle, the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, says one way to celebrate the memory of your beloved pet is by giving back to the animal community. "Donating to an animal shelter is a wonderful way to save the lives of countless more while honoring your pet's memory," she adds. "As part of our organization, Best Friends can help those who wish to set up a fundraiser to pay tribute to their pet's memory."

Cialone and Valentine also note that items like food and litter are always needed at local rescues, and fundraisers could be a way to get the whole family involved. "Kids love to feel like they are making a difference and it will help them channel their own grief into something positive," Valentine says. "It's a teachable moment for kids to learn that as heartbreaking as it is to lose a pet, fostering is a way to celebrate life and the love your pet brought into your home," adds Cialone.

Plant a tree.

Nature is also a positive place to honor your pet, as you can nurture your environment and see it grow. "Planting a tree or plant in their honor is also a beautiful way to celebrate their memory, giving back to nature while having a living memorial," notes Castle. Plus, start your own garden or design an outdoor space on your property to pay homage. Consider creating a private area with shrubs or a garden with meaningful florals that remind you of your loved one.

Visit a sanctuary.

Consider going to a sanctuary, too: "At the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, we celebrate the lives of our sanctuary animals at our Angels Rest location; Angels Rest is one of the most peaceful and serene places that anyone can experience," says Castle. "Surrounded by the beauty of Angel Canyon, the musical sounds of wind chimes honoring these animals ring with the slightest breeze."

Create and wear a charm.

Wearing a piece of jewelry, like a charm, is a personal memento that you can sport each day and even customize to symbolize your pet. Consider a piece from Sprout Design Lab, a Charleston, South Carolina-based company run by female engineer, Jade Brown. This company uses 3D printing that can turn pet paw prints into delicate charms on 14K yellow gold or sterling silver necklaces.

Sponsor an animal.

"You can also sponsor a specific animal with medical needs and help save a life!" explains Cialone. "You can make it a family event and all of these things can be done to honor the memory of your pet and help other pets in need. You will be rescuing pets and enriching the lives of so many people that animal touches along the way!" says Valentine. Look into rescues, like Rock N' Rescue, that make it their mission to protect animals and support families during their times of grieving, too.

"When we rescue animals from high-kill shelters, hoarding, abuse and abandonment, we do so not only to save these precious souls, but to enrich the lives of every single person they touch, from the initial rescue team to the foster caregivers, to, of course, the adoptive family," says Cialone.

Make drawings, poems, or music.

No matter a person's age, channeling feelings into a creative outlet can be a helpful way to express their loss. Cialone and Valentine say that drawings of pets can be made into pillows, Christmas ornaments, or wall décor. They also suggest writing poems and music or creating photo collages and memory books for auditory and visual opportunities to commemorate a pet's life. "We love the idea of a silhouette photo collage; it is a beautiful timeless piece that can be displayed anywhere in your home," notes Valentine.

Craft a display.

Keep reminders of your pet around your home, like a pet collar in a creative display, to keep their memory alive, as Cialone suggests. "Many families keep a keepsake in the house or garden, such as a memorial stone," adds Valentine. "While there are countless kits online, kids can easily make their own with a simple set of paints." Castle also notes that you can buy wind chimes, bricks, and plaques to display as a memory at a sanctuary, like the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

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