Tomorrow, November 2nd, is Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a holiday focusing on the remembrance and prayer for friends and family who have passed on. But Day of the Dead isn’t just about remembering humans who we’ve lost – you can also honor departed pets on this day, too.
Now, I don’t want to get depressing, here; Day of the Dead is a celebratory occasion, but you can’t talk about dead pets without talking about… well, dead pets. Most of us have fuzzy friends who are no longer with us, and it can be sad thinking back on them. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Above is a picture of an altar John “Gruenemann” made for his cat Zoey back in 2006. He says he found it very therapeutic. Action Programs for Animals in Las Cruces, New Mexico set up an altar at their town’s Day of the Dead celebration last year, and 75 people contributed photos or offerings. They have some great pictures of it on their site. Moderncat also has some artistic suggestions for remembering past pets.
Personally, I’m not going to go all-out and create an altar, and I am not talented enough to create beautiful artwork, but I do like the idea of remembering my furry friends who are no longer with us. So here’s a cute picture of two of my now-deceased buddies enjoying some sunshine and each other’s company.
The gray one, Doodles, was my devoted companion for 18 years. He would follow me everywhere and lay in my lap for hours when I was at the computer. He used to suck his paw pad like a kid might suck their thumb. The black and white one, Mr. Whiskers, was my buddy for an amazing 21 years! He had an astounding abundance of personality. I remember him catching and eating flies, and once even a mouse that had gotten into the basement. I’m sure he would tell you that was his finest hour.
It’s sometimes too easy to dwell on the passing of pets. Even if all goes as well as possible for everyone involved, they live much shorter lives than we do. But having a pet is about sharing love and fun for the time you have together. Celebrating that on Día de los Muertos invites their spirit back into your life. So tomorrow, hang up an old picture of a pet who is no longer with you, or maybe make a skeleton kitty drawing, say a prayer, drink a toast, relate an anecdote to a friend, think about the good times, and smile. Celebrate the life of someone you were and are proud to call your friend.
(Zoey Altar image: Gruenemann)