Grief is personal, and everyone’s experience is unique and will unfold itself differently. However, for those moments that seem unbearable and require a break, when you ask yourself, “I need relief. How do I live with this?” I hope you remember to come to this list and can find something that eases your soul.
Please know all things are not for all people. If you find something on this list that helps you — and I’ll be adding to it — please use it. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. I’d also like to hear what works for you. When we share our experiences, we all learn and heal.
When you don’t have the words to express how you feel, art can be therapeutic. It can comfort, heal, and ease your grief. Art can help you piece together the fragments of your life that have become broken, disorganized, or gone missing. Whether you already love art, you’ve never attempted anything creative, or you’re somewhere in between; I recommend trying an artistic hobby as a coping method.
To learn more about why art works in grief check out Project Grief. They’re also offering a free course.
Writing a letter to your loved one can be a great way of dealing with loss. It gives all the words on your heart and mind a place to reside. In grief, we often have so much to say to the person who is no longer here. By writing them a letter, or even a sentence or two, we give those thoughts a voice.
Keep a journal. Writing down thoughts such as: what you’re feeling, what’s on your mind, what seems hard and murky, what today’s experience is like for you, or special times spent with your loved one, can all offer healing. One of the best things to do during grief is to acknowledge how you feel, and journaling offers room for this. It gives you a sacred space to say this has happened, this is where I am, and this is what it feels like.
Grief can add a ton of stress to the body, and movement helps relieve some of that build up. Try taking a walk — even if it’s only around the block — or exercising at home or the gym. When you work out, your body releases endorphins that boosts your mood and eases discomfort. Often, moving as little as 15 minutes can improve how you feel.
Only you can walk your grief journey, but you don’t have to do it alone. Being with those who understand grief, and are experiencing it in ways similar to you, will offer its own special comfort. For more on this coping mechanism, read my article Why I Joined a Grief Support Group and You Should too.
A change of scenery can serve you well, but use caution with this one. The first time I was widowed, traveling helped tremendously. Experiencing new cultures, people, and places was inspiring and reminded me how beautiful life can be. It helped me gain a bit of my independence back too.
However, the second time I was widowed, traveling was much harder. My second partner and I were heavy travelers, so going it alone didn’t help much. Again, each grief journey is different. Do what works best for you and understand that this can also change over time as you move through grief.
Meditation & Yoga
Yoga goes hand in hand with movement. It offers a meditative practice in which you can either reflect or choose to place everything aside for a moment. I’m not a yoga instructor or a psychologist; but I’ve taken many classes in which the teacher told us that our emotions can be held tightly in our hips, heart and chest area, and neck. I’ve found that having movement in these areas, along with other stretches and chest openers, can ease the pain of grief.
I would not have survived my first loss without the help of my therapist. She was kind, validating, and gave me a sacred and safe place to express how I felt. While many go through their journey without ever seeing a therapist, having one is recommended and can be important, especially if you do not have support around you.
Lastly, remember to rest
Allowing yourself to rest in grief is important. Your mind is undergoing a huge amount of processing. This is tiring and can often leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted. Be sure to incorporate breaks throughout your day to rest.
It’s OK to do nothing. You don’t have to conqueror the world today, next week, or in six months. So, decide what resting and relaxing feels like to you, create a ritual, get in your zone, and rest. Your mind, heart, and body deserve it.