Meghan Markle recently reflected back to the "overwhelming process of grief, growth and also of gratitude" she went through last year, and shared the one key to how she made it through the emotional roller coaster.

In her foreword for the annual review of animal charity The Mayhew Foundation, of which she used to be the royal patron, the Duchess of Sussex wrote: "When I reflect on 2020, I always come back to the importance of community and connection."

Referring to the many occasions when families had to stay apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 39-year-old wrote: "We may have been forced apart, but we found new ways to be close and to support each other through this shared crisis."

"For many of us, this was made all the easier with our pets by our side," she added.

Meghan has remained closely connected with Mayhew even after quitting royal life and moving to the United States. It was the UK-based charity that released Meghan and Harry's family Christmas card last year, which featured an illustration of the couple with their son Archie and their pet dogs Guy and Pula at their new Montecito home.

The Duchess once again stressed the importance of pets in her life in her new message for the charity, where she appreciates "the therapeutic effect of having your animal by your side and the solace and comfort you found in their company."

The "Suits" alum is currently on a maternity break after welcoming her second child, daughter Lilibet Diana, on June 4. She recently put a pause on her leave to share a message for the readers of her children's book "The Bench."

In a statement on her and Prince Harry's charity Archewell's website, the former American actress thanked the readers for making the book a New York Times bestseller. Meghan also noted that her book features "universal themes of love, representation and inclusivity" and shows another side of masculinity.

"To depict another side of masculinity — one grounded in connection, emotion, and softness — is to model a world that so many would like to see for their sons and daughters alike," she wrote.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle Photo: POOL / Tolga AKMEN