How to Deal With Grief: 6 Helpful Tips
1. Honor Your FeelingsIt has been said that “It is never too late to have a happy childhood.” This idea refers to intentional healing, which is a key element in positive self-care. For example, if you were told to “stop crying” as a kid, you can now circle back to your “inner child” with a new message, conveying to yourself that expressing your sadness through tears is a healthy human response. You are entitled to your feelings! Again, acknowledging the full spectrum of your emotions helps protect you from the consequences of unprocessed grief. Conscious self-care is ideally ongoing, as it is common to experience follow-up ripples of grief long after the original loss.
2. Cultivate emotional awarenessAccording to Psychology Today, mental threats are processed in a similar manner in the brain as physical pain, as they share overlapping neurological circuitry. That helps explain why people expend so much energy to avoid emotional pain. One aspect of emotional awareness is the ability to pace yourself to avoid being overwhelmed by grief. Researchers refer to this process as “pendulation,” in which you allow yourself to experience a level of emotion you can tolerate, pull back and re-engage when you are ready. As Emma McAdam, LMFT describes it, pendulation is when you “lean into the emotions; you let yourself swing in and feel them—and then you can swing out too, to ground yourself, take a break and rest. The idea is to face your pain in regular, tiny doses with as much support and resources as possible.” Pendulation is an important component of emotional awareness as it allows you to consciously modulate your “feeling and healing” process.
3. Nourish yourself at the cellular levelHolistic self-care is especially important during trauma of any kind. Nourishing your mind, body and emotions from the inside out can help you feel better in the short term while also promoting long-term healing. Consider these healthy ideas:
- Fill in vital nutritional gaps daily for healthy physical/mental/emotional homeostasis. If you struggle with capsules, try this pleasant-tasting, high-potency liquid multi-vitamin/mineral formula, these comprehensive adult chewable tablets or these nutritionally-potent adult gummies.
- Fortify your body and brain with a powerful mix of essential omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—which are thought to support a healthy, balanced mood and minimize systemic inflammation, among other benefits. According to Harvard Medical School, these valuable fats can cross the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules in support of mind-body-spirit well-being.
- We “feel” emotions in our gut for a reason. Help nurture a healthy microbiome with this mood-supporting probiotic formula.
- Prioritize healthy sleep, a frequent casualty of grief, with natural sleep aids such as this powerful botanical blend, this Melt PM Sleep Support or this unique formulation that promotes both pain relief and healthy sleep.
- Lay the foundation for serenity and inner peace with targeted nutrients and botanicals. Consider this Radiant Mood formula, this herbal mood & stress blend, or, for all-level stress support, this cortisol-managing formula.
4. Keep a grief journalMaintaining a daily journal during times of grief gives a strong internal voice to your feelings. Clarifying your thoughts and exploring emotions through writing can bring great relief, whatever format you choose: a poem, a quote, a story, song lyrics or even just bullet points. By documenting your experience with loss, you may also glean valuable insights about yourself as well as the one who passed away. Research from Harvard Medical School suggests that while avoiding your feelings can increase muscle tension and elevate blood pressure and heart rate, expressing your emotions through writing supports healthy immune function, mood and general well-being.
5. Practice affirmationsAffirmations are simply declarations that bring clarity to the present moment. They can be instrumental in processing grief and loss by helping you address difficult emotions with intentionally positive phrasing. For instance:
- I allow myself to fully experience my sorrow.
- I have the courage to feel my emotions.
- The way out is the way through.
- I take comfort in the memories of my loved one.
- I take beautiful care of my mind, body and emotions.
- I manage stress and anxiety in nourishing ways (journaling, playing guitar, breath work, yoga, hiking in nature, etc.)
- I find gifts in grief, such as greater compassion and empathy towards others.
6. Explore grief ritualsIn times of grief, rituals can provide a type of gentle structure, helping us manage the trauma of loss through adaptive coping, which refers to our ability to navigate stressful conditions and associated emotional distress. Check out these ritual ideas:
- Designate a special place where you can contemplate your feelings and celebrate the one you lost. Set the mood with aromatic candles, uplifting flower essences and soothing lavender incense.
- Craft a memory book that includes pictures, mementos, stories, children’s art and other emotional keepsakes.
- If you feel artistic, create a song, poem, drawing, painting, melody or other project acknowledging the one you loved and lost.
- Plant a “Memory Garden,” including flowers and other botanicals that were special to your loved one. Try small potted plants if you have limited outdoor space.
- Make a short eulogy film about the one you lost, perhaps set in the historical context in which he or she lived. This is a powerful way to encapsulate a person’s experiences and accomplishments to share with future generations.
- Create a “release ceremony” to illustrate the beauty of letting go with grace. You might release flowers onto the water, butterflies or birds into the air, or wildflower seeds over soil.
- If you have a favorite tree, turn it into a natural “shrine” where you can feel spiritually connected to your loved one in a beautiful, natural setting.