courtesy of pure-stockgetty images.jpgLasting Memories
Unique Ways to Remember a Lost Pet

The death of a pet is something many families face but don’t know how to handle, especially with children. An important thing to remember is that grieving over a pet is normal. Pets are a part of the family and the bonds are deep and real.

Amy Cantazaro, M.S., Human-Animal Bond Counselor at the Iowa State School of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, counsels families on how to deal with their loss. “Sometimes people don’t understand that a pet’s death can be as deep of a loss as a loved one,” says Ms. Cantazaro. “They’ll get responses from others like, ‘It’s just a dog,’ or ‘It’s just a cat,’ which are not very helpful.”

Ms. Cantazaro recommends finding a way to create a lasting memory of the pet. Some ideas:
* Plant trees or flowers
* Put a special marker, like a statue, bird bath or stone lantern in the garden
* Put a picture of the animal somewhere special in the house
* Create a scrapbook or other memorial art that reflects the pet’s significance.

New trend in memorial art
Iowa artist Silvia Engel, who experienced the loss of her own pet, was inspired to create a unique way to help other pet owners handle their grief. When her family lost their beloved dog, Kiki, “My two young children were devastated,” Ms. Engel recalls.

With the idea that she could help other pet owners cope with their losses, Engel founded Love Ashes, a design studio specializing in artistic memorial jewelry and memorial plaques. Memorial art is a growing specialty that helps pet owners who are in search of ways to remember a beloved part of the family.

Experimenting with the special dichroic glass she used in her jewelry, Engel began mixing ashes into the designs. Dichroic glass was originally developed by NASA for use in satellite mirrors. Many ultra-thin layers of exotic metal oxides are sprayed onto glass to create unique reflective and refractive properties. Engel ultimately perfected a technique for firing loved ones’ ashes into her unique and brilliant glass art and jewelry pieces.

Creating the jewelry is satisfying, but Engel says the letters she receives are overwhelming. Pet owners write her and send pictures of their lost pets, along with stories of how Love Ashes memorial art has helped them cope with their loss. “It’s gratifying to know I’m helping others,” she says. “And it helps me to remember Kiki, too.”

To learn more about Love Ashes or to contact Ms. Engel, visit her website,