If you look for advice on dealing with grief, you will likely find a myriad of ideas—some more helpful than others. Perhaps that is because, as mentioned earlier, everyone grieves differently. What works for one person may not work for someone else.
Even so, there are some basic guidelines that have proved practical for many. They are frequently cited by grief counselors, and they echo timeless principles found in an ancient book of wisdom, the Bible.
1: ACCEPT SUPPORT FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Some experts consider this to be the most important factor in getting through grief. Yet, at times, you may want to be alone. You may even feel irritated at those who are trying to help you. This is normal.
Do not feel that you must always be around others, but do not completely push them away either. After all, you may need their support in the future. Kindly let others know what you need at the moment and what you do not.
According to your needs, find a balance between time with other people and time alone.
PRINCIPLE: “Two are better than one . . . For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up.”—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
2: WATCH YOUR DIET, AND MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE
A balanced diet will help with the stress that comes from dealing with grief. Try to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
Drink plenty of water and other healthful liquids.
If your appetite is low, eat small portions more frequently. You may also ask your doctor about nutrition supplements. *
Brisk walks and other forms of exercise can lessen negative emotions. Exercise can provide time to reflect on your loss or to take a break from thinking about it.
PRINCIPLE: “No one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it.”—Ephesians 5:29, NET Bible.
3: GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Sleep is always important, but this is especially so for those who are grieving, as grief can bring extra fatigue.
Be careful with the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume, as both can interfere with your sleep.
PRINCIPLE: “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.
4: BE FLEXIBLE
Recognize that everyone grieves differently. Ultimately, you will need to determine the strategy that works best for you.
Many find that expressing their grief to others helps them deal with it, while others prefer not to express their grief. Experts have various opinions as to whether expressing one’s feelings is vital to success in coping with grief. If you need to confide in someone but are hesitant to do so, you might find it easier to start small by expressing some of your feelings to a close friend.
Some people find that crying helps them deal with their grief, while others seem to cope even though they cry less.
PRINCIPLE: “Each heart knows its own bitterness.”—Proverbs 14:10, New International Version.
5: AVOID SELF-DESTRUCTIVE HABITS
Some bereaved ones try to ease their emotional pain through the misuse of alcohol or drugs. Such “escape” is self-destructive. Any relief a person may feel is short-lived, only to be followed by major negative consequences. Try harmless ways to calm your anxieties.
PRINCIPLE: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement.”—2 Corinthians 7:1.
6: BALANCE YOUR TIME
Many find it helpful to alternate periods of grieving (experiencing and dealing with their emotions) with temporary breaks (activities that temporarily distance them from their pain).
You may find temporary relief by forming or strengthening friendships, learning new skills, or engaging in recreation.
As time passes, the balance will likely change. You may notice that your breaks from grieving become longer and more frequent—a natural part of the healing process.
7: KEEP A ROUTINE
As soon as possible, resume a normal routine.
When you hold to a routine for sleep, work, and other activities, you will likely regain a sense of normalcy.
Keeping yourself occupied with positive activities can help to mitigate painful emotions.
PRINCIPLE: “He will hardly notice the passing days of his life, because the true God keeps him preoccupied with the rejoicing of his heart.”—Ecclesiastes 5:20.
8: AVOID MAKING BIG DECISIONS TOO SOON
Many who make big decisions soon after losing a loved one later regret those decisions.
If possible, wait for a reasonable length of time before moving, changing jobs, or discarding your loved one’s belongings.
PRINCIPLE: “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success, but all who are hasty surely head for poverty.”—Proverbs 21:5.
9: REMEMBER YOUR LOVED ONE
Many bereaved ones feel it is beneficial to do things that help keep alive their memory of the person who has died.
You might find it therapeutic to collect pictures or mementos or to create a journal of events and stories you wish to recall.
Store items that trigger pleasant memories and look through them later, when you feel ready.
PRINCIPLE: “Remember the days of old.”—Deuteronomy 32:7.
10: GET AWAY
You might consider taking a vacation.
If a lengthy vacation is not practical, perhaps you can do something enjoyable for just a day or two, such as hiking, visiting a museum, or taking a drive.
Even a brief change of pace can help you cope with your grief.
PRINCIPLE: “Come, you yourselves, privately into an isolated place and rest up a little.”—Mark 6:31.
11: HELP OTHERS
Remember that any time you can spend being of help to others can help you feel better.
You might start by helping others who have been affected by the loss of your loved one, such as friends or relatives who may need a grieving companion.
Supporting and comforting others can give you renewed joy and a sense of purpose that may seem to be lacking.
PRINCIPLE: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
12: REEVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES
Grief can provide new insights into what truly matters.
Take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate how you are using your life.
As needed, make adjustments in your priorities.
PRINCIPLE: “Better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, for that is the end of every man, and the living should take it to heart.”—Ecclesiastes 7:2.
Realistically, nothing will completely erase the pain you feel. However, many who have lost a loved one can attest that taking positive steps, such as those listed in this article, helped them to find comfort. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of every possible way to alleviate grief. But if you try some of these suggestions, you may find that they will bring you a welcome measure of relief.
^ par. 13 Awake! does not endorse any particular health treatment.