Family Remembrance Ceremonies/Coffins and Cremation

Inspiration and ideas regarding your own personal family ceremony and making your own coffins or urns from biodegradable materials, using your own artistic skills to personalize and embellish your creation.

Family Remembrance Ceremonies

Some families call it a memorial service or even a remembrance celebration. It certainly does celebrate a precious life no matter what the ceremony is called. It can be simple or elaborate. You can include incense, candles, flowers, or balloons. You can play some soft music in the background or someone could sing or play an instrument. Encourage everyone who knew and loved your animal to get up and say something about your animal by telling a story or expressing their feelings.

Having a ceremony is a fine and noble act, and has a positive emotional effect on everyone, especially children. For a few shining moments you will be making a statement that your animal really mattered and this can be a meaningful way to say goodbye. Some younger children could even write a program of the service to pass out to extended family members and friends whom they have invited. If you are not going to have a burial, your family may want to go to a special place that your animal loved, like the ocean, the forest, or a lake, and spread your animal’s ashes after a ceremony, a song, or some prayers. After the animal is buried or the cremation box is buried or put in a special place or the ashes are spread, any children present may want to blow bubbles from bubble liquid in bottles, as a symbolic gesture toward the sky, and don’t forget the flowers.

A Few Suggestions

For a burial, make a coffin of some kind of biodegradable material, like a cardboard or a wooden box. For a smaller animal, you can buy paper mache from a hobby shop or a craft store (or you can make your own paper mache from cardboard egg cartons and newspapers soaked in water, adding white liquid glue, liquid starch, or resin to sculpt your creation). There are many recipes for home made paper mache online.It is very easy to make, very inexpensive and will dry very hard, plus it is biodegradable.

You can also buy a special clay that doesn’t need to be fired in a kiln that you bake in your oven, after you have made the size and shape coffin or cremation box you want. Children especially are enthusiastic about such preparations. They can make their own smaller coffins or boxes for the cremated remains. Paint or stain the coffin or cremation box inside and out, in any color desired, even gold or silver.

For a burial it may be nice to put a pillow on the bottom of the coffin. Choose a favorite blanket, or buy some nice material at a fabric shop made of brocade, satin, or fake fur to cover the pillow. Or you may want to use a sweater or some fabric with emotional meaning to you and your animal. For both cremation boxes and coffins, some people glue fake pearls or gems on the sides and the top, some use glitter or paint flowers, butterflies, or the name of their animal in gold or silver. Anything goes. It can become a work of art.

Before burial or before you take your animal to be cremated, it is comforting to include in the coffin or cremation box; treats your animal liked, letters, toys, photographs, flowers or anything of sentimental value. Many cultures like the Vikings, Native Americans, and Egyptians held ceremonies and buried their animals with food, their belongings, decorative objects, written statements, artwork, and even jewels to honor them after death. If your animal is cremated, you will already have a beautiful container for your animal that you made and can bury or put in a special location of your choosing.

For your convenience, although this pattern is offered as a halloween item, it can very easily be used as a coffin that you can make for an animal.  All you need to do is adjust the size for your animal. It will require someone with math skills to adjust this to the correct size.