If you lose a relative or a close human friend, the chances are that you will find many people reaching out to support you. Things can be different when your pet dies. Although you’ll still feel grief, distress and emptiness, you may feel that you need to try and deal with those emotions by yourself. You may not want to burden family members, or you may feel that nobody will really understand. That can be very hard to cope with, and not what your pet would have wanted for you. If you’re struggling to come to terms with such a loss, here are some tips that may help.

Accept your grief

When the pet dies you should never feel ashamed or feel that you’re making an undue fuss when mourning. A pet can be an important part of your household and it’s natural to grieve. Paws Into Grace shares that this isn’t about someone who was ‘just an animal’ – it’s about someone you loved, and who loved you, meaning that you may suddenly find an emotional void in your life. You might be wishing you had done things differently, feeling angry at yourself or others, or simply feeling lonely and sad. All these things are natural. You are not being weak or unreasonable. Make space in your life for your grief and take the time you need to deal with it.

Seek out the support you need

When the pet dies you should never feel alone in dealing with grief. If you have a friend or relative who has recently lost a pet, that person may understand what you’re going through and be able to help. You can find pet loss support groups online and in some local areas, and counselling professionals are used to help their clients work through this experience. Remember that everybody deals with grief in a slightly different way, so if others in your family don’t seem to be emotional about it, it doesn’t mean they don’t care.

Make a proper goodbye

There’s a reason why we use rituals to deal with death: they help to focus the mind, allowing for conversations about the lost loved one and creating a sense of closure. In Charlotte, North Carolina, you can arrange to have your pet cremated, and similar arrangements are possible in other areas. You could then keep your pet’s ashes at home or scatter them in a place you both loved. You might also consider a living memorial such as a specially planted tree which you could watch growing year by year.

Celebrate your memories

If your pet has just passed away, you may be finding that every thought about him or her feels too painful to bear. In time, however, that pain will ease, and you’ll once again be able to enjoy memories of the happy times you spent together. Photos and videos can help with this. If you don’t have as many images as you’d like, you could work with an artist to create a portrait while your memories are still fresh. Don’t feel awkward about holding onto a few of your pet’s favorite things – you’ll know when the time is right to let them go.

None of us last forever, but if you loved your pet in life, that love can still warm your heart after your pet has passed on.