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Survival Tips for Grief

After the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to see how to ever go on. The grief journey may seem like a mountain that is too difficult to climb. These are some steps you can take that may help ease that journey.

Allow your grief. No step is more important than this. Appreciate, accept, and allow your grief as a natural response to your loss. Let yourself feel your pain. Suppressed grief doesn’t go away. Grief is a mix of many uncomfortable feelings. You may feel sad, angry, or filled with remorse, regret, or longing. All these feelings are natural.

Express your grief. Empty out your feelings. Cry when you need to cry. Be angry when you feel angry. Don’t suppress yourself or pretend to be stoic. The more you express your pain, the more you free yourself from it.
 
Be patient with yourself.  Grief is a process that takes time. Moving forward is not necessarily quick and easy, but it is possible. Trust that you can and will cope with your loss. The day will come when you can remember your loved one without pain.
 
Keep busy. You cannot dwell on your sorrow or your loss every waking moment. In the first flush of grief, you may feel you cannot control the extent of your suffering. But, you can with friends, with activities, and a plan that forms a lifeline.
 
Keep a journal. This is a powerful method for expressing pain, as well as a means for having private, intimate time with yourself. Some feelings may be too hard to speak aloud, like anger or regret. Journal writing can serve as a release as well as a meaningful expression of yourself.
 
Exercise daily. Move your body. Walking, dancing, swimming, or whatever activity pleases you, can help you feel better. Through exercise, you build your physical strength, release tension, enliven yourself, and keep yourself well. Exercise releases endorphins that will lift your mood.
 
Be willing to change things. It is natural to wish to keep things the way they were when our loved one was with us. Still, that doesn’t keep the person alive.  Although loss is never easy to face, we need to remember we can go on with our lives. We need to take care of ourselves and our needs in the process.

Developed from Journeys with Grief: A Collection of Articles about Love, Life and Loss, edited by Kenneth J. Doka, Ph.D., MDiv., copyright Hospice Foundation of America, 2012.