SOURCE: Peternity

September 13, 2008 13:15 ET

Coping With the Loss of a Pet: Honors National Pet Memorial Day

BREA, CA--(Marketwire - September 13, 2008) - The importance of pets in people's lives has never been more apparent. Some people who could have been in harm's way from the recent hurricanes said they did not want to evacuate their homes because they had nowhere to put their pets.

In the U.S. alone, 90 million cats and 74.8 million dogs have human guardians (or "owners," to use old-fashioned language), the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reports. There are many proven benefits of sharing your life with a pet, such as diminished feelings of loneliness and reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control. However, many people are unprepared for the loss of a pet.

National Pet Memorial Day, which takes place Sunday, September 14, was established to help people honor the joy and love their departed pets have brought them. "It makes me so happy that there is a nationally recognized day for memorializing pets," says Colleen Mihelich, president and founder of, a web site that has been providing support, information and products to help people celebrate their pets' lives since 2003. "Not only does it create an awareness and remembrance of the dear friends that we've all lost, it also helps us, if only a little bit, in healing our broken hearts. The powers of ritual and recognition are instrumental in helping us to move to the next stage in grieving, regardless of what stage that may be."

No stranger to grief, Mihelich lost her mother to breast cancer when she was only four years old and a beloved horse when she was 16 years old. "Grief is something everyone will face at some point in life, and even if you process it well when the loss occurs, other life events like holidays or the birth of a child can arouse it again," she says.

Mihelich provides tips for commemorating the life of a pet:

--  "Create a yearly ritual, such as sprinkling water on your pet's
    favorite spot outside and sharing fond memories of the pet with friends and
    family on your pet's birthday;
--  Collect your pet's favorite toys, collars and photos of your pet and
    keep them in a special box so you and family members can find them easily.
--  Make a donation in your pet's name to a local animal shelter or other

To help a friend who has lost a pet:

--  Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Many people feel silly
    talking about how devastated they are by the loss of a pet, so they will
    welcome your reassurance and your ear.
--  Give them a card or gift to express your sympathy or to remind them of
    the joy the pet provided.
--  Support them in holding a ceremony or ritual to commemorate the pet's

More of Mihelich's insights and advice are provided in her blog and in articles she authored, which are posted on and published elsewhere. features unique products handpicked by Mihelich to honor a pet's life -- items people could buy for themselves or others. Many of the items, such as grave markers, urns and keepsake boxes, are handmade and can be customized. The site even offers services such as custom artwork featuring the pet doing something he or she loved, such as riding in the car with ears flapping in the wind or curling up on the mantle.

There is a free "Pet Memorial" section on that allows people to post memorials to their pets by simply submitting a photo and text through People can then e-mail their family and friends the link to their pet's memorial page -- all at no charge. "It's important to take the time to celebrate the life, love and friendship of pets," says Mihelich, a supporter of Best Friends Animal Society and other pet charities.

In honor of National Pet Memorial Day, is offering a 15% discount on all items on the site through October 31, 2008. To get discount, use this promotional code: NPMD15R.

For more information, visit or call 877-738-7322.

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