Experts recommend specific steps to deal with loss.  However, grieving is personal and each individual is different.  Grief's intensity and duration vary from person to person.

  1. Acknowledge how much the pet meant to you and give yourself permission to grieve as deeply as you want.  Losing a pet is no more trivial or less valid than the loss of any other relationship.

  2. Find someone who can lend a sympathetic ear.  You need someone trustworthy to understand and empathize with you.  If you don't have a close friend or family member to talk to, seek a pet-loss counselor or call a veterinary school's support hot line.

  3. If you truly cannot face work and don't think your boss would understand, tell him you have lost a family member and need time off.

  4. Write a letter to the animal or simply talk to it.  Tell it exactly how you feel and how much you miss it.  If you are feeling any guilt over the animal's death, this is a good time to express it and ask for the animal's forgiveness.

  5. Put away dishes, toys, leashes, etc., until you are ready to look at them.  If these items cause you too much pain, wait until you feel better to deal with them.  Conversely, it's okay to keep close to you a pet's favorite blanket or collar if it makes you feel better.  (If you want to dispose of your pet's items, food, etc.; your local animal shelter is a great place to offer them.)

  6. Create a memorial or commemoration.  This can include saying a prayer, having a funeral, writing a journal, creating a picture collage, constructing a web page, making a donation to a charity in its name, lighting candles, planting a tree, memory garden or any other way you feel comfortable remembering and honoring your pet.  (Volunteering at your local animal shelter, when  you are ready to see other animals, is a loving way to honor your pet's memory by helping less fortunate companion animals.)

  7. Take care of yourself.  When you are grieving, it's easy to forget to eat, exercise of sleep regularly.  Treat yourself with kindness and gentleness.

  8. If your normal routine reminds you too painfully of your pet, change it.  For example, if coming home after work is difficult because your pet is not there to greet you, make plans with a friend for dinner or another activity.

  9. Do not attempt to replace the one you lost with another pet. No relationship is replaceable, and both the new pet and the lost one deserve to be treated as individuals.  When you feel ready to begin a new relationship, that's the time to bring a new pet home.  For some, this can take just weeks; for others it can be years.  If you are unsure, don't rush.

  10. Don't try to forget your pet.  Healing from grief means letting go the pain of grieving, not the relationship or your memories; those bonds are lifelong.  Eventually, you will be able to think fondly of your pet and feel happy at the memories, instead of saddened by the loss.

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