1. Take care of your body. The body is the container of the mind, which is now feeling intense emotion. Nurturing it in the following ways will ease your grieving process. *Nutrition: eat healthy meals even if your appetite is reduced. *Sleep: be sure to get at least 5-8 hours daily, no more, no less. *Exercise: even walking will help your mood in this difficult time.
2. Talk to people who can empathize with your grief. Consistent interaction and sharing with those you feel comfortable around will be most beneficial.
3. Maintain structure in your life by continuing to do the activities you did before the loss, with the exception of those you did with or for your pet. Do not allow this major disruption to snowball into every aspect of your life. Structure will help you regain your bearings.
4. Perform a ritual when you feel the time is right. Some have funerals at a pet cemetery or memorials with friends and family. Others may create a small shrine for a brief time.
5. Allow yourself to feel sadness and loss. Grief is a normal response to a normal occurrence, yet each person goes through it differently. If you feel as though you cannot recover, or it you have thoughts of self-harm, contact a mental health professional immediately.
The above was written by Dr. Matt Zimmerman, a licensed psychologist practicing in Pembroke Pines, FL. He provides grief counseling and facilitates a Pet Loss and Grieving Support Group at the Broward County Humane Society.