Cremation and columbarium services for pets have expanded because of growing demand

Human’s visit Mandai, temples and places with tombstones and columbarium to pay respect to their deceased loved ones. What about pet owners?

“Every so often, a columbarium in Pasir Ris is packed with visitors carrying tributes for their loved ones. But instead of flowers and joss sticks, they place old toys and cans of Cesar or Whiskas in the see-through niches.

This is no regular columbarium for humans, but one meant for pets.

Handwritten notes with touching messages, as well as mementoes and photos from when the pet was alive, decorate each niche.”

The services of pet columbarium have increased significantly, surged in popularity in recent years, says Mr Patrick Lim Thye Song, the undertaker at Pets Cremation Centre in Pasir Ris Farmway 2. Mr Lim had expanded his business to another facility in Ubi due to the growing demand.

Says Mr Lim, 63: “When pets die, their owners grieve as though a sibling or a child has passed away. Funeral services give them the closure they need.” 

“Pet owners want a solution as soon as possible. When they are so upset, few people can bear to leave the bodies lying there,” he adds.

Ms Ling Ing, an administrator at Mount Pleasant, said that columbarium for pets is the only “safe” option for owners. This is because in Singapore, there are no burial sites earmarked for animals, hence pet owners do not have any other proper solution other than discarding them away.

Says Ms Ling: “Without a burial ground, cremation is the only choice for them.”

After all, niches don’t come cheap.
(So as a Designer, how I can allow pet owners to keep their ashes/ memories of their pets without paying monthly for a niche?)

While expanding business and columbarium is on the rise, both companies lease would end soon, then what will happen after that? Hence this is where I should step in, to create something for pet owners to still remember their pet, “beautify them”, talk to them and constantly still able to “feel and touch them”.

Not all agrees in laying your pets to rest in dignity

When a beloved pet dies, some bury in gardens, some leave in the vet’s freezer before going through a mass incineration while some spends on a PET CEMETERY complete with coffin, memorial plaque and poetry reading.
To some this is a way of saying a last goodbye, or the least that they could last do for them. And this is among a minority in UK.

Statistics (based on UK)
1.5 million pet dogs and cats die each year
300,000 buried in garden  |  1,000 in pet cemeteries  |  100,000 individually cremated  |  remaining disposed as clinical waste

Individual burials range from S$550 – S$1000
Cremation with ashes S$100 – S$350
Communal cremation S$5 – S$35


While not all are willing to spend on pet funerals, a marketing company Mintel, found that a quarter of pet owners have organized funerals for their pets, with more than 50 crematoriums and cemeteries in Britain offering this service.
To this writer, organizing an elaborate funeral for a furry friend strikes as over the top, not very British as it originates in America where pet funerals are a booming business, according to reports where 500,000 pet funerals were conducted in USA in 2013.

Thinking that these elaborate rites for animals is just a way of making money at the expense of the bereaved. Complicating things further, than just burying in the backyard. To her, a funeral would not have eased her pain. She went through her pet’s death by burying in her garden after taking the body from the vet. Even though she felt awful about the indignity to be placed in a thrash bag from the vet, a funeral was not necessary still. It would add on financially and also for arranging such services would be another hassle.

7 things to do after someone dies

These are guides to what usually will be done after a loved one passes on. (mainly in U.K)
1  Get a medical certificate [stating the cause of death from a doctor]
2  Formally register the death [at a local registration office in which you will get a certificate for burial or cremation and a certificate of death]
3  Arrange for funeral [follow the deceased wishes if they have]
4  Report the death [to various government departments, organisations. There is a service ‘Tell us once’ which makes a report to all sectors in one go]
5  Check if there is a will left behind [property, possessions]
6  Get the mail redirected
7  Grant of representation [having the legal right to access the deceased’s personal accounts]


Just quick thoughts to my ideation:
When a pet passes on, I believe some of these guides may apply as well. And some should be applied in order to help the guardian of the pet to deal and get over things in an easier manner.

1  Probably having a medical certificate with reasons from the vet as to why the pet passes on.
Example, for some who went through euthanasia, the vet could have stated the reason that it was the best alternative. And that it was wiser a choice for a cure to the pet’s suffering.

2  Registering a pet’s death: Shows how important a pet can be as well. Usually registering for something reflects sense of ownership, the responsibility that comes along. Even when a newborn baby is due, there is a registry that records and to a mobile phone, you have to register in order to activate it. Thus to mark the journey of the pet, registering the death to me reflects the honour you have for it.

3  A funeral rite may not be something grand, but having a last goodbye, the last journey works the same to a pet. In it, there lives a soul too.

4  Well, not having to report to any government sector, but probably it will be nice for close friends to know, where they will be more sympathetic hopefully.

5 – 7  To me before the pet passes on, family members could probably come together to do keepsake together with the pet. Write happy memories to yourself which you once had. Remind yourself that you loved your pet and vice-versa, all that matters. It should only be ‘unlocked’ when the pet passes on.  This is to remind you that you once shared memories and that should be a positive feeling. With these happy memories, hopefully it takes away your grief in a more prepared situation. And who knows, sometimes death could be sudden which leaves you unprepared to capture the moments you once share with the pet. Hence, this ‘pet will’ is something prepared together with your pet previously and all but happy memories.

The switch from “black” to “colorful”

Even till now, i believe when the word “funeral” is mentioned, everyone links it to a sombre event, mourning, sadness, grief and everything black. However, tradition changed, the once deemed sombre event has been “challenged to be held at gardens, sport venues and beauty spots”.

There has been a research done with funeral directors and a separate poll based on UK adults.
49% of Co-op funeral directors said they held funeral services at locations that was beyond churches and crematorium in the last 12 months.
37% of UK adults who participated in the poll chose out of the norm location for their own rite.

hearses based on the deceased's professionCulture shifts from a traditional sombre tribute to a celebration of life and this has become a trend. No longer dressed in black outfits, but outfits that are colourful or meaningful to the deceased. Some even hold a cake competition in memory of a loved one.

The actor Richard Wilson, star of One Foot in the Grave and narrator of the end-of-life documentary Two Feet in the Grave, said: “Death is the most certain thing in life but as a nation we struggle so terribly to talk about it and come to terms with our own and others mortality. Life is short and so I understand why people don’t want to dwell on the inevitable, but as the possibilities are endless, it makes sense to at least share some thoughts about what you may want.”

Interesting topics / reads from research methods learnt

Pet Loss and Human Emotion: A guide to recovery

Through this book, there are many topics surrounding the topic on the aftermath of losing a pet.
3 main key points that popped up to me was:
1  The human-companion animal bond
         Pet provides companionship, protection, entertainment, stimulus for exercise, social opportunities, and a chance to love and nurture something.

2  Behavioural manifestation of grief and loss
3  Thoughts about losing and loving companion animals


A Qualitative Study on the Death of a Companion Animal

This article’s research approach is based on a method of narrative reflections on one’s experience: Autoethnography [to research and describe about personal experience]
To explore the meaning of the loss of a pet.

Animals perceived as integral members of modern family
Companion animals hold a significant place in the lives of many at each stage of the life cycle
Narrative reflections serves as research and therapy.