Grieving the loss of a loved one is such an intense emotional experience—you’re coping with complex layers of different feelings from denial to depression, anger to sometimes even relief. (For more on the stages of grief, see my blog “Understanding Grief” here).
Finding healthy ways to care gently for yourself during a time of great loss allows you space to deal with the waves of pain and distress. That way, in time, you can move toward acceptance.
10 Things To Do When Grieving a Loss
- Practice increased self-care: Make sure to include sensory experiences.
- Take time off work for a while: Do so if that is what you need or want.
- Lay off the alcohol, and maybe even the caffeine: Wait until you feel emotionally stable again.
- Eat regular meals: If you have no appetite, eat what you would normally crave and deprive yourself of—junk food calories are better than no calories.
- Socialize with warm and comforting people only: You may want to make some adjustments and either increase or decrease the frequency of your normal going-out schedule, depending on your current needs.
- Watch movies and TV shows that are light, wholesome, and funny: Choose uplifting options, not heavy ones.
- Practice healthy sleep hygiene: If you have insomnia, take a sleep aid—better than too little sleep (if you decide to take medications, make sure to talk to your doctor).
- Reach out to professional experts: This could include a grief counselor, hospice, or a psychiatrist if needed.
- Share your grief with the people you trust in your support system: Only share with friends and family members who can safely hold space for you. It is better not to share your vulnerabilities at all than to share with the wrong people. I recommend checking out this blog post on how to know whether you can be vulnerable with someone or not.
- Honor the deceased: Acknowledging and honoring the precious life you lost is an important way to hold dear the life you shared together.
Special Ways To Honor The Deceased
We typically think of honoring the loved one we lost in terms of a memorial, funeral, or celebration of life, but there are so many additional ways to honor the deceased for many years to come.
- Give difficult dates, such as the anniversary of a death, an additional meaning—a positive one this time—one that your lost loved one would also have felt excited about (for example: launching a new website on the anniversary of your sibling’s passing)
- Put their picture up in your home, so you are reminded of them and what they looked like every day
- Create a photo album reminding you of some of your favorite memories together
- Make them your screensaver on your computer or phone
- Go back to restaurants where the two of you would go on dates
- Celebrate their birthday
- Do something special on the anniversary of their death
- Do an activity that reminds you of them (if they loved playing board games, such as Monopoly, play a game of Monopoly and talk about how much they used to love to play that game)
- Light a candle in memory of the person you have lost, either at home or on your travels, when you visit churches or cathedrals in Europe, for example
- Eat some of their favorite foods and drink some of their favorite beverages; if they loved drinking a cold Stella on a hot summer day, have a Stella on a hot summer day
- Listen to the type of music they used to listen to
- Create something tangible for you to hold onto like a picture collage of your travels together
- Plant a tree in your backyard to remember them by; maybe you can place a bench by that tree and read there from time to time
- Spread some of their ashes in a meaningful place, this can be in nature, maybe by a beautiful scenic look-out point where you would make a stop during your walks together
- Go to the cemetery where they are buried, talk to them, and put some fresh flowers on their tombstone
- Book Recommendation: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
- Mantra: I AM CREATION // repeat with diaphragmatic breathing
- Yin Yoga Asana: Fetal Pose
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