[Warning: This editorial features spoilers for season seven of ‘The Walking Dead’]

The best TV shows and movies are the ones we can relate to in some way, or are ones that pull our minds into worlds that are different than our own. Having a front-row seat to all of the action allows us to get interested in the plot and feel as though we’re a part of it. With how realistic modern-day films are, it’s even easier.

When the plot is good enough, it’s easy to favor a character (or several) and instantly feel connected to them, all while hoping any enemies that stand in their way fall off a cliff somewhere. Unfortunately, whether your favorite character is the protagonist or antagonist, your hopes for a good outcome can go awry; characters both good and bad can die off even when you’re expecting a happy ending.

If your favorite character dies, you may find yourself grieving over them much more than you ever expected. Despite being fictional, characters in movies and TV shows can still connect with us as though they were real, so losing one you felt close to can be tough.

Losing A Friend

Even though characters in TV shows and movies are fictional, it’s important to understand that your feelings can be the same regardless of whom or what was lost. Because you felt connected to your favorite character, you may feel sad or angry after he or she dies—and that’s perfectly normal. There’s no need to feel awkward or ashamed about it; many who favor the same character as you are also affected by the character’s passing, so you’re not alone. A somewhat recent example of this is how social media users reacted to Glenn’s death after watching the season seven premiere of The Walking Dead.

Accepting how you feel about your favorite character’s death is the best way to begin moving forward and lessening the after-effects of what happened. Here are some other helpful tips on what you should do when your favorite character dies.

Reach Out To Protagonists

Immediately after your favorite character dies, you might be tempted to quit watching the TV series or movie(s) the character was in, but remember there was a reason you were drawn to the show or film in the first place. It could be that the universe in which your favorite character resided was enthralling in itself, and if you believe so enough to stay interested, don’t be afraid to entertain the idea of favoring other characters. Watching for a little longer might be a better idea than you first thought; the remaining characters are likely to be more relatable at this time since they too will be mourning the loss of whomever has passed.

You might find yourself quickly connecting with other characters who you didn’t pay too much attention to before. Writers often kill off certain characters for a reason, and sometimes it can be to push a different character into the spotlight and further develop his or her personality or to get viewers more interested in the main character if they’re not already. Keep an open mind going forward; your favorite character might pop back into the plot somehow—whether it be in flashbacks, visions, or in the flesh!

Seek Out Other Shows And Films

If you’re bummed out to the point that you can’t even imagine looking at another minute of the show or film your favorite character was a part of, taking a break from it might be the best thing for you to do at the moment. Unlike when you lose a real person, you can visit other stories or universes to meet new characters, so consider doing just that.

There are a lot of great movies and TV series available that are bound to catch your interest. Try browsing through Netflix or other streaming services (like Hulu, Amazon, Crunchyroll, etc.) for a new series to watch. Since you can filter them by genre, you’ll be able to locate ones you’ll enjoy quickly. Starting with a lighter show or movie is probably best; even if you don’t particularly enjoy comedy, consider choosing something a little more laid back and less dramatic so you can de-stress without avoiding screen time altogether.

Write About It

If you’re the writing type, consider writing some fan stories or talk to other fans about the character you lost. Lots of writers out there write fan fiction stories (also known as “fanfics”) about their favorite characters that can be very fulfilling reads, and it’s a good way to move forward after your favorite character dies. Not only will it help you feel better, but you’ll be able to keep your favorite character’s memory alive in the process! Sharing fanfics with others who enjoy the same series is also a great way to start a discussion and have the chance to chat with people who share your interests.

Even if you aren’t into writing, it’s likely there are plenty of fanfics on the internet that include your favorite character already, some of which might offer an alternate outcome of their original story. There are also bound to be fan-made pages and groups you can take part in, so don’t hesitate to join the conversation!

Moving Forward

Luckily, moving on is possible and doesn’t require leaving your favorite characters in the past. Writing about them—whether it be in fanfics, forums, groups, or other discussion boards—can keep your favorite character’s memory alive and well, all while easing the mood after what happened.

Watching other films and shows can help, too. Most of all, you need to accept everything as it comes, one step at a time. Give other characters a chance, and don’t forget there are plenty of other good series out there just waiting to be discovered.

Have you ever grieved the loss of a character in the past? If so, what did you do to help yourself move forward? Let us know in the comments below.