Funeral Services, Memorials, Keepsakes, Viewings, Witnessed Cremations—and the vocabulary list goes on and on. All this verbiage and what does it all mean? Well, I’m here to help you make sense of it all. From “pre-planning” to “aftercare services”, I’m going to give you a little Pet Cremation & Pet Funeral 101 and what all these terms actually translate to.

What does it all mean?

It became clear to me recently that even though there is so much information out there now regarding pet death services; there are so many different terms being used. This can be very overwhelming and confusing..especially if you grieving. In this industry, we do have certain terms we are streamlining for the rest of the industry to use. This is so we can all be on the same page and understand what each service type is and what your options are as a pet owner.

For the pet industry, many terms translate from the human death care industry. So if you have dealt with planning your own “after death care plans” or have been faced with the difficult task to be involved in a family member’s death, then you would be familiar with these terms. But what if you haven’t? I believe this is what can be very scary and overwhelming about making the correct decisions.

What are the right terms?

As a pet crematory owner for nearly 2 decades, I have been quite involved in various associations that guide us through this industry: IAOPCC, CANA, PLPA . And here within these associations, we, industry folks, use this vocabulary every day. In some cases we have built Code of Ethics and Guidelines for other pet crematories and cemeteries to follow. But that doesn’t mean the general population knows what we are talking about. For example: What is the difference between a viewing and a witnessed cremation? What is Aftercare? Is it the same as Afterlife Services?

Let’s dig in…

Let’s start with the larger picture…Aftercare.

  • Pet Aftercare is a term that you may have not even heard of until a few years ago. Aftercare by definition usually relates to the care someone receives after addictions but this term has been crossed over to the funeral care industry. It encompasses all care and planning one receives at the time of passing. In terms of Pet Aftercare, this can include the preplanning of after death services, cemetery burial, cremation services, viewings and even the choice of memorial products for your beloved pet.
  • Preplanning – is the preparation and decisions you make prior to one’s passing. This is exactly like the human industry when you sit down and start making decisions of when you pass, what are your wishes? Since our pets are our family, many pet owners are pre-planning their pet’s passing. The benefits of this are that you have a clearer mind of exactly what you want for your animal companion.
    • It should be noted that Pre-planning is a great idea for pets of elderly people. Example: As you are drawing up a Will and wishes for yourself, have you thought about what will happen to your BFF (Best Furry Friend) if you pass on before them?
    • Preplanning is also helpful with larger animal companions i.e. Horses. What are your wishes if you are out of town and something happens unexpectedly? Do you have a plan in place?
    • Preplanning can also help in finances. Cremation can be expensive, especially with larger animals. Equine cremation can be $1000 or more. So with the option of Pre-planning—some crematories will accept a payment plan for Pre-planning and/or pay in full for services desired. This way you have nothing to worry about when the day comes.

picture of older gentleman with pets

Services and What They All Mean?

Viewing – A viewing in the human industry is also termed a “Wake”. When family members/friends are able to view someone deceased after the funeral home has prepared the body.  For Animal Aftercare, some facilities are able to receive your pet, prepare the pet as best they can and give you, as the owner, a private comforting space to spend some extra time with your beloved before cremation and/or burial.

Viewing and Witnessed Cremation –  Fairly new to the Pet Aftercare industry (at least here on the west coast) are requests for viewings and witnessed cremations. People are concerned to make sure that is indeed their beloved fur baby going in and being retrieved from the cremation chamber. For some, this may seem morbid…but done at a well reputable cremation facility; it is done with care and dignity.

Memorial Products–  Now skies the limit these days with memorial products for pets and/or humans. There is a little breakdown of what these products entail. Let me help…

Urn- Some sort of container used to house the cremains of your pet.

Scattertube– A temporary container in a tube format, usually has a perforation on top in order to scatter cremains easily in a place special to you.

Keepsakes – A small items to memorialize your pet. Can be anything from a Garden Stone with personalization, a Clay Paw Imprint, a toy or token saved from your pet.

Jewelry Keepsakes- Some sort of jewelry item (necklace, charm, rings, etc.) that is able to house a small portion of cremains. **In some cases cremains can sometimes be made into the jewelry – i.e. blown glass with cremains

Hair Clipping- A small clipping of hair from your animal companion. Usually sealed in a small Ziploc bag.

Paw Imprint- An impression of your beloved pet’s paw usually in clay. Can sometimes be in ink. **At Eden Memorial we can clay imprint any size pet – from a pet lizard to a horse!

Nose Imprint- An ink impression of your beloved pet’s nose. These are harder to get but can be done.

  • **Special Note – technology has come so far that now jewelry can be made out of a photocopy of a paw print and/or nose print.

So as you can see, there are so many different vocabulary words when it comes to pet aftercare services.   If you are interested in more specifics of cremation and what types of cremation services are available to you for your pet here on the Central Coast, please visit our Services Page.   We clearly define what each service type is and how the process works here at Eden Memorial Pet Care.

Our advice to you…if you are not using Eden Memorial Pet Care for your pet’s cremation services then please read up on what each service is and how it is properly defined. Then do your own research on local pet crematories in your area. Make sure they are also being honest in their procedures and you are getting exactly what service type is right for you and your beloved pet.

We are always here for you…until next time.

Remember to follow us on all social media:  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

About the Author:  Owner of Eden Memorial Pet Care

picture of christine johnson author