The loss of a pet is one of the most difficult situations a pet owner and animal lover will need to endure. Never is the comfort and constant companionship a pet provides more evident than when it is no longer there. When you lose a pet, you don’t just lose an animal; you lose your best friend. No matter how old or how sick your pet may have been, death shocks the senses. The feeling of grief may be overwhelming immediately following your friend’s death and may linger for months or longer. It takes time to recover emotionally from such a profound loss. Below are some tips for helping you cope after losing your best friend.

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Give Yourself Time

People widely accept that the grief process is different for everyone when it comes to mourning the loss of a person, but grief-stricken pet owners are sometimes frowned upon. Well-meaning friends and family may ask insensitive questions like, “Are you over it yet?” Even with pets, the time a person grieves varies from one person to the next. For some, it may last for a couple of weeks. For others the grieving process can take months or longer. Don’t rush yourself. Instead, allow yourself to experience the natural sadness that comes with loss. It’s necessary for healing.

Don’t Go Through It Alone

For some pet owners, the loss of their beloved pet results in more than tears and sadness. It may be a serious interruption in your life, an overwhelming feeling that prevents you from getting on with your daily routine. If this is the case, don’t go through the grieving process alone. Seek comfort in talking to friends or family. If you don’t feel they’d understand how heartbroken you are, talk to a counselor instead. There are therapists who are trained in dealing with and recovering from the loss of a pet. A counselor may be able to introduce you to coping skills that can help you resume your normal routine.

Remember Your Friend

One of the best ways to combat the sadness you experience after a loss is to remember all the good times you had with your pet. Look through old photos of your pet as a puppy, kitten or whatever the case may be. Create a collage of some of your favorites. Some people find scrapbooking to be a great form of therapy, and it’s the perfect way to tell your pet’s story through words and pictures. If your pet enjoyed sitting under a particular tree for cooling down, place a little statue there in his memory. Donate to a charity or animal shelter in honor of your pet. There are so many ways to remember your loved one. Do something that is meaningful for you that represents the life and legacy of your friend.

Embrace New Friends

There will come a time when you’re ready to get another pet, and that time varies according to each individual. After my Lab mix died, I was heartbroken. I rescued him after he had been dropped off on a neighbor’s farm. Yet as much as I missed him, I knew that Max would rather me save another dog than sit around sad and lonely. So three months after Max passed, I rescued a Shepherd mutt. It doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten about Max. You never forget a pet. It simply shows that I enjoyed Max’s companionship so much, and I felt so good about providing him with a loving home, that I wanted to do that again. And I think Max would be very proud of me.

While some pet owners, like myself, find it healing to embrace a new relationship with a pet right away. Others prefer to wait until they’ve completely moved past their loss before getting another pet. Do what works for you, but there’s no better feeling than providing a safe, nurturing home for a pet in need of one.

Losing a pet creates feelings of grief that are very real. Don’t try to hide away your emotions; let yourself go through the grieving process.

Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer, blogger, and animal lover. She has a passion for the Internet, and loves how it connects people across the globe. She loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.