One of the saddest things in life is the death of a beloved pet.

No matter whether your pet passes away at home or if you have to take him or her to the vet to be humanely euthanized, the sadness can be unbearable, even overwhelming. Your heart is truly broken. You swear that you will never get another pet because you never want to feel this pain again.

The emptiness you feel is normal, but you probably don't get the support you need. You don't get the time to grieve fully, and if your friends are not animal lovers, they can't understand how you could be so sad about the loss of just a pet.

One thing you can do to lessen the pain is to volunteer at an animal shelter offering the love you need to give to an animal that can surely use it.

You can also talk with friends who are animal lovers. Tell them how you feel. They will understand and empathize. They've probably gone through this pain and grieving, too. They can help.

Another thing you can try is to get all the pictures of your pet and put them in an album on your coffee table. When you have guests, there will be lots of happy memories to share. And looking through it can help when you're by yourself, too.

You might want to sponsor a pet. This means that if a shelter in your area needs to place a special-needs animal in a home setting, you could be the angel who makes his or her home available. No special degree is needed for this act of kindness. All you need is food, water, a few toys and lots of love.

The animal will likely be with you for a short time, but it could turn out to be for a lifetime if you decide to keep it as your loyal companion.

If you decide to keep this lucky pet, you will not only be helping an animal in need, but working toward mending your broken heart. *

Battles is a lifelong animal lover. Her own menagerie includes four dogs, and five cats - all strays. She has produced and hosted many shows for the Pennsylvania SPCA and other area shelters. Her motto is: "Be a hero, adopt a pet."