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How do you memorialize a pet?

Yesterday I accomplished a project I had been putting off for a while. Over a year. It was making the stepping stone out of my cat's ashes. Ranma (the adorable cat on the main page) passed in April of 2022 and it's taken me this long to get around to it.


Concrete stepping stones are my way of memorializing those pets I have lost. They go in the garden which is a nurturing, quiet space for me. I should preface that I have not taken a single art class in my life (I was all about music and science in my youth). And these stepping stones aren't about making something artistic, they are just there to pay tribute to those I have lost.


Personally, I think that memorials are important to us as human beings and this is evident in all the ways different cultures celebrate those that we have lost. My first experience with making a memorial was helping a child to make a clay paw after we had euthanized her dog. At first, she was in near hysterical tears. But once we started the project of making the paw print, and then writing her dog's name in the clay, she settled down and told me stories of how special he was. Her tears eventually dried and she (and her parents) left with smiles. The activity was a distraction, yes, but it also seemed like it plugged a tiny hole in a broken heart and gave her something to focus her love on.


There are so many creative ways to memorialize our pets. The classic urn is nice but if you have had a lot of pets the mantle tends to get cluttered. Some plant trees but you'll want a green thumb for this. You can make a photo collage. You can buy key chains or pendants that have a little vial for a bit of ashes so you can carry them with you. On Etsy, there are several glass blowers that will incorporate your pet's ashes into paperweights, lamps, and other beautiful works of art. I like the action of doing it myself, even if it's not perfect. Also, don't worry about waiting until you're ready to do it. I waited over a year! Remember that everyone grieves in a different way and in a different time frame. We never stop missing those we have lost even if we grow more accustomed to bearing the weight of the pain. Those who have lost someone really close will know what I am talking about.


OK, so here are the pics. Basically, I used a cement mix from Home Depot and for the molds, I used planter treys (9"). You can also buy stepping stone kits online. The treys don't reuse well so buy more than one if you're planning on making more than one. Use a flat level surface to support the weight. I did a practice one first so I could get an idea of how wet to have the cement. Design your decoration ahead of time on a template so it's all ready to go. Wear protective equipment - gloves, glasses, mask, and apron. Especially for me since I was dealing with an abalone shell. I added the ashes before adding the water. I mixed the cement a little wetter than the instructions called for so it was easier to pour into the mold. Then I wiggled the mold until the surface was flat. I added my decorations and Voila! The actual process of making the stone took only about 15 minutes.



Adding the ashes to the cement before adding water.

Practice run: Just some leftover glass backsplash, abalone shell, and decorative stones.

The final product. The idea was to have moon and reflection on the ocean. Ah well, as I said I am not an artist.

This was one I did for my cat Henry. I got a photo block printed. Note that this one does not do well in the out-of-doors! The photo has faded quite a bit.




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