Many people feel such intense emotional pain following a death that they wonder
if they can survive. It may be hard to believe in the early days, but the pain does
ease and thoughts about the person who has died become more comfortable and the
happy memories are treasured.
Some strategies for dealing with grief
Everyone will be different.
Some people find it helpful to spend fifteen to twenty minutes alone every day.
They put on the answering machine so they won’t be disturbed. This time acts as
a safety valve. In it they deal with any emotions they have stored up during the
There are different ways of grieving at these times: thinking, crying, praying,
meditating, writing or drawing, talking to the dog!
Some people like to keep a diary. They write down their feelings and the memories
of the loved one. They can then see how their grief changes over a period of weeks
and months. This is proof of progress. If the diary is kept in a safe place the
written memories become precious in the future. Alternatively some people feel more
comfortable with pictures or diagrams.
Many people feel less alone by also grieving with other family members, including
Many people find crying a relief. Rather than being an indication of weakness, tears
are often a sign of strength and show that the bereaved person is prepared to work
through their grief. Some people find it difficult to cry, and yearn for tears to
release their grief.
The process can seem long and lonely, so many people find someone whom they can
confide in, for example, a relative or friend. Doctors or the local community health
centre may be able to help in this way, or refer bereaved people to a specialist
grief counsellor. Some people find the experience of another person who has been
through a similar situation invaluable, and so contact a support group.
Some other useful strategies
- Live a day at time.
- Do something special for yourself every day.
- Do not make any major decisions, such as selling the house, in the first year if
Some other strategies
- Talk to a caring friend, pastor or counsellor.
- Join a bereavement support group.
- Read books on grief.
- Write letters to the person you have lost to express your feelings or as a way of
saying goodbye. You can then keep these in a safe place, or bury them under a bush
you plant in their memory, or scatter the pieces in a significant place.
- Keep a journal as a record of your own journey of grief.
- Create a memorial for the person who died: plant a tree, create a memory book or
photo album. Children often like to collect items for a memento box.
- Commemorate the person you lost on special days, such as birthdays, Christmas, Father’s
Day. Light a candle, drink their favourite bottle of wine, talk about them. Then
go and do something special for yourself - you deserve it! Plan these activities
with the rest of the family.
Self care is important to prevent further stress to the body. The following have
been found to be helpful in coping with grief:
- A regular daily routine. Have set times for getting up, meals and going to bed.
- A balanced diet. Include: breads and cereals; meat, fish and dairy products; fruit
- Avoid too much coffee and tea to help you sleep at night.
- Outdoor activities, such as going for a walk or gardening take you away from the
stress, and refresh you mentally.
- Exercise, such as swimming, walking and team games, will produce chemicals called
endorphins in the body which help to counteract depression and make you feel good.
The exercise does not need to be strenuous. If you have doubts about your fitness
consult your doctor.
- Relaxation: meditation, massage, music.
- A relaxing pre-sleep routine: winding down before bed and not watching television.
- Avoiding seeking relief through alcohol, smoking, medication and other drugs.
- Consulting the doctor about physical symptoms, for a blood pressure check, for practical
help, for medical certificates, and for help with the grief.
Be patient, tolerant and gentle with yourself as you grieve. It is important
to seek professional help when you feel overwhelmed by your grief or memories. No
one has to bear it all alone. There is help available.
Page last updated 25th August, 2016