Remember Me: More pets are getting mentions in obituaries.

Over the years, more obituaries have become longer, giving more room to mention a person’s pets, hobbies, and passions. (© FlaglerLive)

By Chris Miller

Animals play many different roles in our lives. Some consider them a member of the family, while others appreciate the reminder to take a daily walk.

From Service dogs And Emotional support animals For pets waiting to greet us at the front door, animals can bring joy, comfort and companionship to our lives. So naturally, these relationships that we form throughout our lives will – or at least be remembered – in death.

gave Toronto Star More than 600 animals were recently reported digging up and attempting to relocate from Oakville, Ont. Pet Cemetery As highlighted in this story, and as Many others will noteBurying, embalming or cremating animals is hardly a new practice. These funeral practices offer ways to honor pets and all that they mean to us.

But what happens when the owner dies first? As it turns out, animals are mentioned more often than their human counterparts in the poems.

How the dead are changing.

Writing an obituary is one of the many ways people do when a loved one dies. Previously, they were reserved for the elite of society, but The Democratization of Death As a result, more people are being memorialized in this way.

We write obituaries for a variety of purposes. Some of them are purely practical. To announce that someone has died, or to invite family and friends to a funeral.

More importantly though, the dead give the bereaved a chance to tell a story about someone they loved. Who were they? What did they enjoy? What were their values?

As one of the studies within the Irreligion in a Complex Future Project, our team has. Analyzed Canadian pearls. To understand the changes in how people commemorate the dead over the last century. As it turns out, the animals are appearing more frequently with each passing year.

As recently as 1990, none of the 53 were published on a Saturday Toronto Star Any pets mentioned. However, this gradually began to change. We learn that, in 1991, Harriet will “sadly miss all her friends and animals.” Similarly, Burton – who died in 1998 – was “sadly missed by his ‘good boy Scamp'”.

By the mid-2000s, about one to four percent of obituaries mentioned pets. Since 2015, that number has risen to 15 percent.

Pets and the dead

It is true that these figures are not very high. In a sample of 3,241 deaths from 1980 to 2022, only 79 mention animals. However, this slight increase points to a change in how people compose beads.

Telling personal stories

Our research shows that, since the early 1900s, memories of death have become progressively longer. The old standard was a brief notice containing the deceased’s name, age and where they died – all in the space of about four lines. In recent years, the average length has increased to about 40 lines, with some reaching over 100 lines.

This extra space leaves room for more information about the deceased. For example, more than 80 percent of recent obituaries mention children of the deceased. This is almost 50% higher than before 1960.

Recent pearls are also more likely to indicate the deceased’s education, profession or hobbies. In addition to just a list of attributes, it’s common to see rich, detailed descriptions. Rather than being defined by his job title, we read that the man was “a dedicated visionary who was proud and loyal to his many employees and colleagues.”

Our dear friends

As obituaries grow longer and more detailed, it seems only fitting that some attention be paid to animals. It has become more common to mention one’s pet, or love of animals. The references also go into more detail. In addition to the pet’s name, we learn whether he was a “hitty-toity poodle”, “faithful companion” or “best dog ever”.

It is a profession. Another important part of pearls. For Mary, who died in 2019, a career highlight while working at Nestlé Purina was “inducting various brave pets and service dogs into the Purina Hall of Fame.” Not just a professional passion; Mary also had six black Labradors at home.

Hobbies and interests Death notices are becoming more common. For Bobby, these included “sitting in his garden with his dog, Chloe” and “having fun with his beloved parrot, Pookie”.

Instead of sending family flowers, many bereaved people now close by requesting. Donation in memory of the deceased. Not surprisingly, groups like Human societythe Farley Foundation And various conservation groups are growing in popularity.

Our new ways of grieving

This trend in death notices points to a broader social change. That is People value more than nature. And Non-human animals. The reasons behind this turn are varied and complex. But the evidence – i Death And Out of reach – suggests that people are seeking meaningful connection through the natural world and with non-human beings.

Animals aside, obituaries also reflect important changes in how we commemorate the dead. These were once (and some still are) short, formulaic texts. But more often than not, memories of death are a window into a person’s life. They can be Sad or sadbut also Funny, satirical and heartwarming.

Above all, obituaries are more personal now. To create a lasting memory of someone they loved, families want to share with the world what made that person special. This can be expressed through the activities, people or pets that have brought them joy throughout their lives. For some, that means cheering for their favorite hockey team, or remembering the time they scored a hole-in-one, and often, that dear friend they meet up with at the end of a long day. were

Chris Miller is a postdoctoral fellow in the Nonreligion in a Complex Future Project at L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa.


Conversation Born out of a deep concern about the fading quality of our public discourse and a recognition of the important role that academics can play in the public sphere. Information has always been essential to democracy. It is a social good, like clean water. But many people now find it difficult to trust the media and experts who have spent years researching a topic. Instead, they listen to those whose voices are loudest. These ill-informed views are amplified by social media networks that reward those who incite outrage rather than insight or thoughtful debate. The conversation seeks to be part of the solution to this problem, to elevate the voices of real experts and share their knowledge with everyone. The conversation airs on Flagler Live at 9 p.m.


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