Dear Carol,

Dear Ms. Spiritual Matters,

My dog, Sam, meant everything to me. Sam was loyal. He was the first one I saw in the morning, the one who cheerily greeted me upon arrival from home after work, and the last one to whom I bid good night. He chased balls. He loved going for walks in the park.

When Sam unexpectedly died two months ago, I was in such a state of shock that I let my brother handle the details. My brother had Sam cremated. Sam enjoyed swimming in a nearby lake. We scattered his ashes over the water he loved.

I miss Sam. Standing on the shoreline looking out and not seeing him just isn’t enough. What can I do?



Dear Carol,

By no means do you feel differently than other pet owners who have deeply loved their pets. After cremation and the dispersal of ashes, many people yearn for a specific place where they can routinely remember their special animal.

You might place a stone marker with Sam’s name on it in your garden or on a balcony or porch. You could have an epitaph inscribed on the stone as a tribute to Sam’s playfulness, loyalty and devotion.

Building such a memorial creates a space you can step into and enjoy a ritual of remembering Sam. You might memorialize Sam with art, such as a collage of photos or an artist’s rendition of Sam taken from photos. You could intersperse among the photos short captions or poems that best describe your times with Sam.

Remember that rituals restore equilibrium. You can create good times with the memories you cherish.

Good wishes,