When your child’s pet dies, it’s hard to explain how to stay within a budget to your child at a highly emotional time. The following pet funeral ideas, organized by price point, will train your child how to stay within a rational budget as she digests that Ziggy is gone forever.
Home Burial (Free)
A spendthrift child may benefit from the tale of the ant and the grasshopper, especially when her praying mantis, Hugabug, is found dead in the cellar. Explain that since she saved none of her allowance, toilet or backyard interment are her only options. And no, there will be no official casket; just an old paper jewelry box from JCPenney. Facing this harsh truth will make your child sadder, but help her save money for more important things, like college.
Home Burial at Sea (Free)
Same as above, but with the toilet as a watery grave. Rest easy, gentle sailor!
Home Cremation ($1–5)
Formal cremation is beyond the means of most children, but for those who can afford the extra charge on the gas bill, the experience of watching their dead buddy disintegrate in the bottom oven while surrounded by family and friends has been known to bring closure. The Altoids tin of ashes on the mantel will remind your little mourner that some things are worth spending (a very little bit of) cash that is not yours.
Acid Funeral ($5–10)
While dangerous for children, sulfuric acid is surprisingly affordable for the budding scientist in your family. This funeral is most cost-effective when performed in the science lab at school, and the chemical disposal fees incurred will be minimal. It’s also a great opportunity to explain to your proto-chemist the concept of a chemical change. Just be sure to keep the disintegration bucket away from the remaining guinea pig, who will no doubt be hazy with grief. Consider this an investment in her education!
Dining Room Table Funeral ($10–20)
For the young gourmand, cooking a departed friend can build appreciation for culinary technique and the circle of life. Helping her buy her own groceries is a chance to comparison shop, and a home-cooked fresh meat dead pet meal will teach her that you don’t have to go out to experience fine dining. This funeral encourages feasting, merriment, and dual celebration of the pet’s memory and your sorrowing child’s ability to reuse resources. Plus, she made dinner instead of you. How’s that for a change?
Parade Followed by Sleepover ($20–$50)
For the fortunate heir who has received a check from Grandpa, bereavement can be brighter than you think. A procession and overnight vigil honoring the life of LeBron the boa constrictor will delight all who loved him. Posters, streamers, plastic instruments and party gear will enhance this festival of his life as children bear his body to the nearest football field and leave it to the elements. Just remind the host not to order more pizza and cupcakes than her budget can handle. After all, LeBron is dead.
Destination Funeral (Starting at $50)
Your child, while unlikely to have this amount in her piggy bank unless she is a tiny Warren Buffett or has an actual job, can now afford fuel to help return her pet’s corpse to nature at a location of her choosing. State parks and theme parks are popular choices; if you don’t want to drive her, a bus or train ticket should work just fine. Let her go it alone! Nothing in life is a handout, not even death.
Using these ideas, your melancholy daughter can send Rat Elsa and Rat Anna into the great beyond while remaining prudent and in control of her financial future. And if she takes your advice to skip the funeral and start saving for a new pet, that’s even better!