In the Beginning

Suggestions for Helping Yourself through Grief

This title is not meant to indicate that others in our lives do not help us through grief. We need the help of friends and relatives and may need the help of a pastoral counselor. At the same time, it is important for us to make efforts to help ourselves, too. The basic advice is to be gentle with yourself. Remember that a lot of energy is being used for healing. Treat yourself with the same care and affection that you would offer a good friend who had someone close to them die. Most of us are aware of “love your neighbor”–we forget the part “as you love yourself”.

Articles included in the
“In the Beginning” Newsletter

  • Coping with Grief: Life After Loss
  • The Bereaved Marriage: Areas of Sharing
  • What Goes on at a Meeting
  • To Bereaved Grandparents
  • Sibling Grief
  • Making it through the First Year
  • The Greatest Grief
  • The Grief of Fathers
  • After Death Communications
  • Books for Bereaved Parents
  • Death of Adult Child

Click on the cause of death for material that may be helpful to you. Everyone grieves differently.

Not all suggestions will be helpful to everyone. Grief has its unique side. Choose the ideas that appeal to you.

  1. Go gently. Don’t rush too much. Your body needs energy for repair.
  2. Don’t take on new responsibilities right away. Don’t overextend. Keep decision making to a minimum.
  3. Accept help and support when offered.
  4. Ask for help—our family/friends can’t read our minds. It is okay to need comforting.
  5. Seek help of a pastoral counselor if grief is unresolved.
  6. REST – MORE REST – go to bed earlier.
  7. Seek support of others. Invite a friend/relative for dinner or overnight; visit a friend, invite a neighbor over, and possibly meet new people.
  8. If Sundays, holidays, etc. are especially difficult times, schedule activities that you find particularly comforting into these time periods.
  9. Be patient with yourself! Healing takes time.
  10. Lean into the pain. It cannot be outrun. Let the grief/healing process run its full course.
  11. Remember it is okay to feel depressed.
  12. It is good to cry. You feel better afterwards.
  13. Read. There are many helpful books on grief. If grief is understood, it is a little easier to handle.
  14. Good nutrition is important to help the healing process. (Decrease junk food and try to eat a balanced meal).
  15. Moderate exercise helps (even walking), tennis, swimming, exercise classes offer an opportunity to work off frustration.
  16. Keep a journal. It is a good way to understand what you are feeling/thinking.
  17. Plan new interests: join a tennis group, read a novel/mystery, take a class (crafts, skills, self-awareness), learn and do something new, rediscover old interests, activities and friends.
  18. Plan things to look forward to: a trip, visit, lunch with a special friend.
  19. Do something for someone else: call a friend and listen, talk to lonely, reachout to the hurting, listen to ignored, volunteer for organizations, visit nursing home residents.
  20. Do things a little differently, yet try not to make a lot of changes. This sounds like a contradiction, but it is not.
  21. Pray to the person who has died.
  22. Remember you will get better. Hold on to hope. Some days you just exist, but the better days will be back. You will develop a renewed sense of purpose gradually.
  23. It is okay to be angry—don’t push it down—let it out. Hit a pillow, swim, exercise, hit a punching bag, scream.
  24. Other ideas: Take a hot relaxing bath, bask in the sun, take time for yourself, go to a movie, a play, go out dinner.
  25. Do not have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Grief takes TIME. It comes and goes.
  26. Find quotes/posters that are helpful to you and post where you can see them.
  27. Simply stated, put balance in your life: read, rest, work, pray, and recreation.

Family Life Education
New York



is the key to
survival for
bereaved parents
Talk to someone!

And through all the tears,

and the sadness
and the pain,
comes the one thought
that can make me
internally smile again:
   I have Loved!

   *   *   *   *
The first time a memory
slides over us like a wave
of warmth,
we have turned the
corner of our grief.