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  • allisoncgary

What Can I Do About My Grief?

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

There are lots of self-care activities (small and large) that can be helpful to do for ourselves as a way to take care, to be gentle with ourselves.

"Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve."

~Earl Grollman

Grief is the natural response to loss. Be it death loss, life transition, or responses to other significant changes, we naturally will grieve. There is no magic fix to grief, no wand or genie that can help make the grief stop. It will happen, whether we want it to or not. One of the most important things to do... is to experience it, process it, and take care of ourselves through it.

Something common in the grief process is that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Whether because we are trying to take care of others, or gripping to how life is "supposed" to be, or denial that the loss occurred... our general care sometimes goes out the window when we are grieving.

Grief can be hard! And the basics are important. It is encouraged to schedule a physical health exam, try to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, drink enough water. Sometimes just ensuring those basic needs are met is enough to give us the fortification we need day to day. But sometimes we long for more... something to specifically do for our grief.

Here are some ideas of other things to do when grieving:

Keep a journal of your feelings and grief work. Looking back can help with a sense of progress and healing.

Write a letter to the person who died, tell them exactly what you are going through, this can help with a sense of “unfinished business.”

Don’t avoid family days, but try to plan ahead of time how you will make such time together special, what rituals or traditions will change, and how you will include the memory of the person who has died.

Tell others clearly what you want and need. Reach out to others, they won’t always know to check in with you or how to support you. Be open and talk about your feelings.

Eat healthy and get some exercise.

Set small goals at first, accomplish them. With time set bigger goals to accomplish.

Engage in informal and/or formal counseling. Informal counseling would be talking with family members, friends, or a clergy person. Formal would be appointments with a professionally trained counselor. Relying on support is not a sign of weakness.

Allow yourself time and permission to cry. Tears are a natural experience, and are as natural as laughter and just as healing. Tears, whether shared with others or shed in private, can help release bottled up feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt, exhaustion, and loneliness. It takes a great deal more energy to try to keep your feelings locked inside than to let them out.

Use outside stimuli for a cathartic experience. For example a movie, play, music or books. Allow yourself to feel and release.

Concentrate on breathing deep breaths. Give your body the proper oxygen to function completely. This can feel grounding.

Create a safe place and go there, whether physically in person or in your mind through meditation.

Write lists of memories or qualities about the person who died. Write down things they said that you never want to forget.

Take care of yourself. Meet yourself where you are at in your grief.

Take care of someone or something outside of you, like a plant or pet.

Do activities that you enjoy. If you feel stuck, try something new.

Take a long shower, imagine a waterfall washing away pain and fatigue, covering you and filling you with peace and protection.

Talk out loud to the person who died.

Memorialize your loved one, whether in your home or somewhere else. Visit that place if it is not in your home.

Attend a support group with other grieving individuals, it can give additional support while also giving the sense that you aren’t alone in grief, others understand you and what you are going through.

Visit nature. Be present in nature, turn off devices and allow yourself to be in the beauty of a natural space. Feel your feet on the earth, it can be grounding.

Use essential oils or appealing fragrances, this can feel grounding and peaceful.

What we do to care for ourselves is unique, what you will find helpful may be different from what is helpful for others. If something doesn't work, that's okay! Find what works for you.

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