Animal Remembrance Ceremony

I'm sorry that you have missed our 2018 Remembrance Ceremony.

Please check back for information on our 2019 Ceremony (May, 2019).

If you have immediate questions, please feel free to contact Joelle Nielsen, the Honoring the Bond Program Coordinator at nielsen.19@osu.edu or 614-247-8607

The Honoring the Bond (HTB) program is a department in the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  The role of those working in the Honoring the Bond program is to provide support and resources to animal owners during difficult times.  This support typically revolves around end-of-life planning and grief associated with pet loss. 

One of the most important events that is offered by the HTB program is the Annual Animal Remembrance Ceremony.  The inaugural ceremony was held in the summer of 2009 and the 10th Anniversary of the event, on May 19, 2018.  Owners of VMC animal patients that have died in the last year are invited to attend the event. 

The format of the ceremony has remained fairly consistent, and, typically includes invited guest speakers that offer remarks about the special grief we experience with the loss of an animal and ways to celebrate their lives and memory.  One of the most moving parts of the event is the presentation of a slide show with pictures of pets, including birth and death dates, as well as an optional quote from the owner.

During the slideshow, many tears are shed, and it is often, at this point, that owners realize that they are not alone in the grief that that they are experiencing.   The following is an excerpt from an email that was received from and owner.  The words reflect thoughts that are shared, every year.

 "We were all in the same situation, dealing and healing from our losses, but were made to feel so welcomed, comfortable and not afraid to show our emotions. But it was so very touching that OSU thought of the animals so much to honor their memories and how they touched our lives so much."

You may view this year’s slideshow here: https://youtu.be/zA1aUk8RlW0

After the slideshow, the owners then take part in a personal remembrance ceremony.  In the first several years, owners attending the ceremony would write their pet’s name and special thoughts on a paper heart that was embedded with wildflower seeds.   These hearts were then hung on a tree on the grounds of the VMC.  Starting in 2013, we started to use river rocks as a more permanent, ongoing remembrance.