Why Planning Final Arrangements in Advance Matters


When your dog has cancer, the final moments are never far from the mind.

But preparing for those final moments — and what you’d like to happen afterward to honor and celebrate your pet’s life — can give you much-needed peace of mind once your pet has transitioned.

To help us, Coleen Ellis, founder of the first pet funeral home in the U.S., has written “Pet Parents: A Journey Through Unconditional Love and Grief,” a pre-need guide to making arrangements for your pet.

Decisions to make are similar to those we face when saying goodbye to our human family members: burial or cremation, who you’d like present during your final time together, which rituals you would like performed and how you will remember your loved one. Making these decisions during an emotional turbulent time may be a challenge.

The book includes unique information to creating your plan, such as:

  • How to educate yourself on the final arrangement process with a list of questions to ask your veterinarian or pet loss company
  • Sample forms to fill out to help you determine what final arrangements, type of service and memorialization you want
  • How to choose the right cemetery to ensure perpetual care
  • Real-world celebration stories from pet parents
  • Grief support resources and getting through the Intricacies of Pet Loss including sites, books — and a special section for helping children

As a supplement to her book, Coleen has shared this free download for you to print: Guide to Planning Ahead.

Even though a dog with cancer may be in hospice and we may be anticipating their transition, most of us may find it difficult to think about our wishes.

But having a plan in place can help.

Coleen, the founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, an educational resource for the pet grief discipline and who heads the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance, wrote me in an email, “I have been actively involved in ‘planning ahead’ for final arrangements for 27 years; the majority of my career being spent with planning ahead for humans. …I’ve physically and emotionally seen the difference with people when they plan ahead and when they don’t. With those that have planned ahead — taking the time to really think about how to celebrate and honor a life together — the ‘fear of the unknown’ and the anxiousness of the death and thereafter is removed.”


Available in paperback ($12.95) or as an e-book ($9.99)

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