Photographing the Funeral Rites of Pets

After Diambra Mariani and Francesco Mion's dog passed away, the couple began a photo project exploring how people memorialize their pets.

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When Diambra Mariani and Francesco Mion’s dog died, the couple was devastated. After twelve years, the dog was a member of the family. “It was a terribly painful experience,” says Mariani. “In addition to this, I must admit we weren’t totally prepared to handle the disposal of his body.”

What does one do when a pet passes away? While some owners might simply opt for a backyard burial if the pet in question is a hamster or rabbit, the death of the family dog can pose a more difficult problem. “Our vet was luckily really helpful and we finally opted for a single cremation,” Mariani says of her experience with her dog. “In a few days they gave us back a wooden box with his ashes, with a golden plate with his name on it. We found it really weird, but what other options did I have?”

This was the beginning of the couple’s photographic research into how people cope with the loss of their pets. As Mariani and Mion dealt with the passing of their beloved dog, they decided to explore the traditions, both established and new, of memorializing pets.

The Barcelona-based couple began searching the internet for nearby services that help owners deal with passed-on pets. So far they have taken photos in Madrid and Paris as well as in Barcelona, documenting sites such as pet cemeteries, funeral homes, and a company that transforms the ashes of pets into diamonds.

The death of a pet can be incredibly hard, especially when you have a serious bond with an animal who’s been your constant companion for years. While jewelry made from ashes might seem morbid to some, Mariani and Diambra’s work shows the demand for services like these, and the way in which such items can become talismans that help owners remember their pets in a meaningful way.

See more of Diambra Mariani’s photography at her website, built using Format.

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Le Cimetière des Chiens, Asnières sur Seine, Paris.

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San Antonio Abbad Memorial Center, a pet funeral service in Madrid.

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A dog at San Antonio Abbad Memorial Center.

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Zaira and Daniel, waiting for the urn with the ashes of their rabbit Billie.

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Waiting area at San Antonio Abbad Memorial Center.

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A pet urn.

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The owner of San Antonio Abbad Memorial Center.

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The guest book at San Antonio Abbad Memorial Center.

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A pocket urn for pet ashes.

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Urn for pet ashes.

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Inside a jewelry lab in Barcelona which works with diamonds made from pet ashes.

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At work in the jewelry lab.

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The footprint of Billie the rabbit.

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Yasmine De la Vega, founder and owner of Amity Diamonds, a small firm that sells diamonds made from pet ashes.

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Cementerio de Pequeños Animales, Barcelona.

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Yasmine De la Vega of Amity Diamonds shows a jewel from her line.

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Pet cemetery, Barcelona.

More photo series:
Photographing Faces, Religion, and Memory in San Salvador de Jujuy
This Is What The End of Summer Looks Like
Suburban English Life Photographed by Danielle Madeley

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