One of the hardest things to come to terms with as a hamster or small pet owner is just how short a time they’re with us. While they’re in our lives, hamsters fill our hearts with such love and joy. And all that love doesn’t simply disappear when a hamster crosses the rainbow bridge.
Our beloved pets live on in our memories, and honoring them in unique ways can help us through the difficult grieving process following their death.
Below, we’ll share some ways of saying goodbye and remembering a pet who brought such light to our lives. These ideas also work for any pet, not just hamsters.
1. Donate to an animal charity or rescue
After your pet passes away, you might find yourself with some extra funds each month. After all, you’re not paying for food, bedding, enrichment, or medical care for that pet anymore.
You could save up these funds for a future pet, or you could donate some of those funds to an animal charity. Small pet rescues, sanctuaries, and other charity organizations are always in need of supplies and vet care funds, and they always appreciate donations, either of cash or leftover supplies.
You can let the charity know in your donation communication that the donation is in honor of your pet who passed away.
2. Volunteer with a hamster rescue
Donating your time and skills can be just as valuable as donating supplies or funding. And volunteering with a hamster rescue is a wonderful way to honor your pet who’s no longer with you.
There are many ways to volunteer with a small pet rescue, from remotely creating content and fundraising materials to hands-on work like transporting animals.
Reach out to a small pet rescue in your local area to see what kind of needs they have.
3. Plant a garden
After the loss of a pet, you might feel like your caregiving energy has nowhere to go.
Planting something in honor of your hamster is a beautiful way to transfer that caregiving energy into another living thing. This can be even more meaningful if you plant something where you buried your hamster or scattered their ashes.
Create a photo album
Creating a physical photo album for your departed hamster can be a meaningful and personal way to commemorate their life. Flipping through its pages allows you to relive those cherished memories in a more tactile and intimate way.
Designing the album also provides an opportunity for personalization and creativity. Choose a cover that resonates with your pet's personality, arrange photos chronologically, or theme them according to different aspects of their life.
4. Write a letter to your hamster
Writing a letter to your departed hamster is a way of continuing the loving bond that the two of you had while they were alive. You can express in your letter everything that you miss about your hamster and the time you spent together, or just catch them up on what’s happened since they passed away.
This is a coping method used by many people when they lose a human friend or family member, and it can similarly help when you’ve lost a pet.
5. Write a eulogy
If it feels more natural than writing a letter directly to your hamster, you can also pen a traditional eulogy. This is a short piece that you can imagine reading at your hamster’s funeral or graveside. If you wish to, you can actually hold a funeral and read the eulogy you’ve written to your guests.
This can be a helpful ritual to go through, especially if multiple people in your household or social circle had close relationships with the hamster and want to share their memories.
6. Commission artwork of your pet
There are many artists online who offer wonderful pet portraits and artwork. If you have a favorite picture of your hamster, you can send it to an artist and commission a completely custom piece of artwork. This could be a physical painting or drawing that you receive in the mail or a digital piece that you can print and hang on your wall.
You can find many artists who offer pet memorial artwork in a wide variety of art styles, so you can find the style that best suits you and your pet.
6. Bury some of their favorite items
Whether you buried your hamster or had them cremated, burying some of their favorite items can be cathartic and a more concrete way to say goodbye. This could include items like food, a hide, or a favorite chew. Just make sure that these items are biodegradable.
You can either bury these items with your hamster, or you can bury them in the area where you scatter some of your hamster’s ashes. You can also bury items even if you cremated your hamster and plan on keeping all of the ashes. Consider marking the burial location with a memorial stone.
7. Create an online memorial
It’s increasingly common today for families to create online memorial pages in tribute to loved ones who have passed away. You can do the same for any pet, including your departed hamster.
On your online memorial page, you can share photos and a description of who your hamster was in life. Visitors to the page can share their own memories of your hamster or offer words of sympathy.
With some online memorial page sites, such as Cake, you can also add a memorial fundraiser to raise funds for a hamster charity.
8. Hold space to say goodbye
One of the easiest things to overlook when you’re grieving is just how important it is to dedicate time and space to saying goodbye. You might feel pressured to move on quickly because people in your life view your pet as “just a hamster.”
It’s important to recognize and connect to how important your hamster was in your life and what it means that they’re gone. Allow yourself the time and space to feel what you need to feel and properly come to terms with your loss.
As a small pet owner, you go into pet ownership with the understanding that they will only be with you for a short time. In many ways, this is a profound act of love and generosity: you’re opening up your heart fully knowing that it will be broken in only a short time.
But knowing that your pet won’t live for all that long doesn’t mean grieving their loss is any easier. Hopefully, some of the ideas above can help you to take the time you need to say goodbye.
Sarah is a writer at JoinCake.com, an end-of-life planning website with free resources and information on how to estate plan and honor loved ones’ final wishes.