Pets are often considered members of the family. This can make losing a pet a devastating occurrence, especially for small children. It is also a very common event, with 20% of Americans having lost a pet in the past three years. If you’re a pet lover, you might want to get a new pet after your old one passes away. However, you should make sure that you are prepared to do so.

Celebrate the Lost Pet First

A big part of parenting is teaching your children about the world. This includes life and death. Help your children to remember the pet that died by memorializing them. If you want to do something big, consider a burial with a flower arrangement. However, bear in mind that these can get expensive. A small display can be found for under $30, but more elaborate arrangements might go into the hundreds due to their complexity. Doing a simple backyard remembrance can also help you and your family come to terms with the loss and celebrate the life of your pet.

Don’t Rush into It

You might feel like you need to get a replacement for your beloved pet as soon as possible. Don’t do that. Wait for a little while. Give yourself a chance to grieve and consider your actions. If you let your early emotions take over your decision-making, you might find yourself in an unsuitable position with your new pet later.

Listen to Every Family Member’s Needs

Make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to getting a new pet. Sometimes the parents might be ready while the children are still trying to process the death of the previous pet. In your parenting, focus on listening carefully and accepting your children’s grieving process before starting anything else.

Visit Shelters Before You Make Your Plans

You should visit a few shelters without planning to adopt any of the animals on your first visit. This way, you can acclimate yourself to the process of adopting. This is especially important if your previous pet was very old and you haven’t adopted in a long time. Go in and remind yourself of everything that comes with pet ownership. While it isn’t as complex as parenting, it does come with a lot of responsibilities. Use these visits to spend time with other pets and remind yourself of what you’ll need to do. You might find yourself hesitating instead of going forward with adoption just yet. This is completely fine.

Let Go of Guilt

It is normal to feel guilty about adopting a new pet after an old one dies. You might feel like you’re just replacing the old one. It is okay to feel these feelings, but you should also let go of that guilt as soon as you can. Remind yourself that you gave your previous pet a good life full of love and now they’re gone. You can share that love with another animal without feeling like you’ve abandoned the old pet.

Establish New Routines with Your New Pet

Once you’ve decided to adopt, you need to focus on establishing new routines for the new pet, even before they arrive at your house. You might feel like you should naturally stick to the routines you had with your old pet, but that can cause both you and the new pet frustration. Let your new routines develop naturally and you’ll be more comfortable with them.

Getting a new pet after losing an old one can be a mix of sadness and joy. Give yourself time to prepare and make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success.