Grief is a normal, natural response to the death of a loved one. It can also feel very painful
emotionally, and at times, physically. The death of a loved one changes many things.
• You don’t “get over” grief. You can get through it. Know that it will take longer than
anyone tells you and more energy than you might imagine.
• Take extra care of yourself. Grief is hard on the body. Your immune system and
defenses are affected. Include nourishing food with your comfort foods. Take a multivitamin.
• Get extra rest. You may find that sleep patterns are disrupted.
• Move – bend, stretch, walk, run… Do what you can to include movement into each day.
Exercise impacts both body and emotions and is a gift you give yourself.
• Avoid making big decisions. You will be able to think more clearly later.
• Do what comforts you so long as it does not hurt yourself or anyone else. This could
include trying new things.
• Let others help. Many will offer but do not know what to do. Ask for things that would
help support you.
• When people ask how you are doing, tell the truth. That can be “today is a good day /
bad day.” “I’m doing my best”. “This very hard.”
• Allow yourself to feel your feelings – all of them.
• When you have a lighter moment and find yourself smiling or laughing, and you will,
enjoy it rather than feel guilty.
• Talk about your loved one to someone who will listen. Storytelling can be very healing
and a way of sharing and honoring their life.
• Set boundaries. When people begin to tell you THEIR story of someone who died,
perhaps of similar circumstances, it is okay to tell them it is too hard to listen now. The
same goes for platitudes and well-meaning advice that is not a fit for you.
• Be aware that family dynamics may change, some getting stronger, some being tested.
This is normal. Keep communications open and be compassionate with yourself and
• Journal your thoughts and memories. Include your feelings, wishes and regrets. Some
have found that writing letter or starting a book of notes to their loved one gives them
• Create a memory book or box. This can be a good individual or family project.
• Reach out to help someone else.
The best way to honor the life of your loved one is to take very good care of yourself and live
your own life as fully as possible. Right now, it may seem impossible to imagine that you will
even want to step back into a full life. In time, you WILL feel better.
Dr. Sandi Howett is the Bereavement Specialist for Hansen Mortuaries & Cemetery. She may be
contacted at [email protected]