Skip to main content

“You don’t heal from the loss of a loved one because time passes,
you heal because of what you do with that time.”
~ Carol Crandell

C O P I N G    S T R A T E G I E S    T H A T    W O R K


• Exercise – dance, run, walk, hike, sign up for an exercise class.
• Allow time off – take time off from your routine, house, job, or even from grieving for a while.
• Allow time for yourself – see a movie or play, listen to music, read, daydream, journal, watch TV, or just do nothing.
• Nurture yourself – take a hot bath, get a massage, garden, do activities you enjoy. Make sure that you are getting enough to eat and drink, and try to make healthy choices. Be gentle with yourself.
• Rest – get enough sleep, take breaks and rest throughout the day.
• Concentrate on breathing – remember to take deep breaths. Give your body the proper oxygen to function efficiently.
• Play – participate in sports, go shopping, socialize with friends, eat out, play video games, visit the art museum, library, botanic gardens, theater, film, or concert.
• Use humor – cultivate your own sense of humor and seek out opportunities to laugh or at least smile (read the comics, watch a comedy, etc.).
• Visit nature – take walks or sit in the park and enjoy seeing nature surround you.
• Meditation and prayer – practicing meditation, prayer, or other rituals from your faith traditions can be a source of strength and healing.
• Prepare for difficult days – make plans for how you will spend holidays and other special days. Think about what rituals may need to change, be added, or stay the same. How will you include the memory of your loved one?
• Be creative/Use creativity – draw, paint, sculpt, dance, sing, play music, garden.


• Communicate – tell others clearly what you want and need.
• Make time to talk – share with family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or a religious advisor (clergy person).
• Seek out grief support – speak with a trained professional to seek support and education about grief. Also consider joining a support group.
• Rely on outside help – ask for support with simple things like chores. Asking for help is not a weakness.


• Keep a journal – express your feelings, thoughts and needs. Use it as a space for release, exploration, and introspection. Looking back will help you see your progress.
• Write a letter – write to the person who has died, telling them exactly what you are going through or expressing any feelings or thoughts to resolve “unfinished business.”
• Write lists – list good things about your loved one, the loving things they said to you that you never want to forget, etc.
• Organization – grief can influence our concentration, memory and decision making abilities. Writing down to-do lists can help us stay organized and more in control.

Developing Resources

• Set small goals first – accomplish them, and then set more or bigger goals.
• Reach out to others – be open and talk about your thoughts and feelings.
• Cry! – tears are as natural as laughter and just as healing. Tears, whether shared with others or shed in private, can help release bottled up sadness, anger, guilt, exhaustion, and loneliness. It takes a great deal more energy to keep your feelings inside than to let them out.
• Safe/nurturing place – go to a safe space, in person or in your mind, whenever you feel overwhelmed or in need of nurturing.
• Use imagery – for example, imagine the shower as a waterfall – washing away the pain and fatigue, covering and filling you with peace, strength, and protection.
• Help others – reaching out to others who are hurting, donating or volunteering for good causes can help you to feel needed and connected to others.
• Try something new – explore new activities or hobbies to help get you out of a rut and to connect with others.
• Enjoy good memories – reminisce, by yourself or in company, over personal belongings or family pictures of your loved one.
• Talk out loud – speaking out loud to your loved one may bring a sense of connectedness and comfort.
• Visit the place of burial. • Create rituals or sacred space – to honor your loved one and help keep his or her memory alive. Consider planting a tree, placing a bench or stepping stone, creating a ceremony for special days or an everyday ritual to connect with your loved one.