following ways of handling grief are activities that help
working through the pain and refocussing life. Especially the first
ones are typical female strategies and grieving fathers
often choose to deal
with their grief differently. Men often find it easier to
on their pain through physical activities than language.
Activities That Help Handling Grief
and working through the pain
Again and Again
This helps to regain orientation in a time when it feels as if
has changed. The Psychologist Dr. Glen Davidson explained it
beautifully as follows:
"Telling your story will be
the most important thing for you to do as a
mourner, because in the very act of telling it you are putting your
life back together. By telling your story you will discover that your
facts change, not because the facts themselves are changed but because
your choice of what is important changes. You may discover that your
initial impressions of what happened were incomplete or even
inaccurate. The more unexpected the death, the more likely it
initial impressions were wrong." (Understanding mourning
Telling your story it might not be possible to find an end. That is not
necessary and trying to do so by others might cause even
more disorientation. What is important though is to be able to retell/
the story again and again and again.
For that it is good and helpful to find a group where people can
support each other in handling their grief. This unburdens grieving
partners who prefer different coping strategies as well.
Questions Again and Again
and how women often try to shine
light on the event
from every possible angle. This too helps to gain orientation
to notice and cope with feelings like anger and guilt.
Talking about these questions and possible answers again
and again helped me to change my feelings about the event from
unbelief over sadness and anger to finally acceptance, integration,
learning and being proud to be mother of this wonderful child.
the other hand my partner sometimes felt quite at a loss with me asking
those questions again and again. He thought he needed to answer them
and didn't understand why I asked them again and again. In a
was looking for understanding while he wanted to fix things.
that this was quite a normal occurrence and what the intentions and
needs of each of us were, helped us to relax in a way and and enabled
us support each
other better in handling our grief.
stories, poems, memories made me cry and cry but also showed me that
I/we were not alone. Finding out about possible causes for his death,
things that helped other parents, researching and understanding grief
were all things that helped me work through my very own emotional
good-bye-letters as a means of handling grief. I wrote letters and
letters to my loved boy in my diary, asking and answering the same
questions again and again. In a way my diary served as a really patient
For the funeral each of us wrote a good bye letter
to our son. Reading each others letter to our son helped us both to
understand each other in our grief better. My partners letter gave me a
rare glimpse into the world of his emotions and helped me to understand
that he was at a totally different place in his grieving process than I
His words and wishes also gave me a lot of comfort.
express feelings can be very therapeutic. In the end, drawings of your
dreams and memories or just emotions can be great mementos later on as
pressing and arranging flowers, making
bookmarks and other things to share - these are all great things to use
creativity and serve the grief.
We redecorated the room
our son was supposed to be born in, dedicated it to him and life,
making it more friendly and welcoming.
kept popping into my mind, that seemed meaningful to me.
And I would keep humming or singing them to myself, pondering over
their meaning in the context of my story. Others keep listening to the
same song again and again or express their emotions through music.
people choose or create a comfortable place to sit and read or write,
others need to move. Movement
can release a great deal of the tension
that is connected to strong emotions and thus help handling grief.
When I lived
near a park I used to go for a run whenever I felt helpless or angry.
Then after a while of running the very strong emotion eased up a bit
and creative thoughts would come through to help me solve my problems.
At that time I would usually slow down and just walk or I felt like
sitting next to a tree and connect with the universe. Those walks
usually were quite powerful and after them I felt revived, stronger and
Care of Your Health
stress like the one caused by grief weakens the immune
system. Moreover, after loosing a loved one, food is often the last
thing you think of - let alone prepare it. But in fact it's good
nutrition that can help to cope with all the strong emotions and
prevent even more misery in form of stress related diseases.
Preparing nutritious meals is a great way for friends to help. Also a
up about 6 months after the loss would be good, as some diseases are
easier (or only) to heal if detected
Breath-Therapy, Aroma-Therapy or Bach-Blueten-Therapy can be helpful to
balance again too.
Some Things to Bear in Mind
More Tips for Handling Grief
For couples it can be very important to reframe differences as strengths.
This enables mutual understanding and support.
Often it helps to make
grieving collective experience. Finding a
that each and everyone can remember together and in each ones way the
lost one. Some organize a memorial service when they're ready, others
write a book together about their grieving experience, or help others
in memory of the lost one.
It is also very important to look for
and rely on help from outside. According to Stephanie
Matthews-Simonton mourning people can help themselves from their own
resources only to 25%, 20% of help comes from their partner, the other
55% comes from other sources.
Find something or
your day and keeps you moving.
After a loss it is easy to get lost in emotions. And while it is
important to feel them to work through them, it is also important to
find pauses, do different things, realize the world hasn't stopped
turning even though it seems to look and behave totally different now.
was lucky enough to have my older daughter to keep me busy and make me
take care for her. Others decide to adopt a puppy - not as replacement
for the lost child (how could that be possible anyhow), but as company,
someone who buzzes with life, needs to be cared for, seems to
understand everything and needs to get out into the world.
Things that don't help: (and even can prevent /
delay handling grief positively)
drugs or alcohol to numb the pain - pain will only be
effect diminishes - it's better to "take the courage to face the pain"
the expectation to "get over it" soon or to "be strong". It
right and healing to feel the pain and often needed to find ways to
with the loss.