Red Deerians grieving the death of a pet will be able to find comfort at the Rainbow Bridge Memorial Service on Wednesday.
It’s only the second time Red Deer Funeral Home & Crematorium has hosted the event, which will now be held annually.
Rebekah Sealock, manager at Red Deer Funeral Home/Eventide Funeral Home, said there was “lots of tears, but lots of laughter” at the first event held in February 2019 where quite a few people stayed after the service and shared stories.
“We just wanted to be able to acknowledge those who have lost a pet and provide a safe place for them to reflect and be supported by others who have gone through similar loss,” said Sealock about the free event.
She said last time a table was set up for people to display photos of their pets. That is still an option, but people can also provide photos for the video tribute that will be incorporated into the service so everyone can reflect together.
Central Alberta Human Society’s K9 Community Outreach Teams will again attend to provide support.
Eva Sarson, society outreach coordinator, said the services are the first such events that the society has been a part of.
She said society is now getting to the point where the death of a pet is recognized as a real loss that comes with real grief.
“(Pets) were family so that loss is just as big as if we lose one of our fellow human beings,” Sarson said.
And during the pandemic, more people realized the role that pets play in their lives, she said.
“I think that really opened the eyes of a lot of people in community, how animals impact our life, how they support us.”
She said people experienced many losses during the pandemic and if they lost their pets as well, it created a big void that just compounded all that grief. It’s good for people to know that the memorial service is available to them.
“I think it’s a much needed resource for the community. Definitely a good process, and healthy, to go through,” Sarson said.
Rainbow Bridge Memorial Service runs from 7 to 8 p.m. at Red Deer Funeral Home, located at 6150 67th St. Refreshments will follow the service.
Sealock said it was mostly couples who came to 2019 service, and this year a few families are expected to attend which is suitable for children.
“We just want to make sure our community knows we support their grief. We want to be able to provide them a place to go to acknowledge that and grieve that loss.”
To RSVP, or to include photos of pets at the service, or for more information, call Red Deer Funeral Home at 403-347-3319. Free transporation to and from the service is also available for those who need that assistance.