Practicing Self-Care While Grieving

There are so many emotions that arise when we confront the death of a loved one. With so much emotional turmoil, it's easy to forget about our own well-being when we are engulfed in the grieving process. While everyone has different spiritual rituals, burial ceremonies, and social norms that guide us through the initial steps of saying goodbye to a loved one, the question remains: how do we deal with the days, weeks, and months that follow? 

It is completely natural to feel sad, alone, angry, or even guilty during these times. We may have trouble sleeping, experience fatigue, and feel overwhelmed. Acknowledging that we all face this process in our own way and giving ourselves time to understand our body and soul is the first step toward coping with loss.

As we struggle to adapt to this new normal, it is important to explore different ways of caring for ourselves and to nurture and encourage our minds and bodies during grief.

Why Self-Care is Crucial When Dealing With Grief 

Focusing on self-care during the grief process allows you to cope with all the emotional and psychological hurdles coming at you while still continuing to function day-to-day. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each grief journey is unique, so it's important to focus on strategies that work for you. Some emotional, physical, and social approaches to self-care may work for you, but some won't. And that's okay.

Even if you're busy and it's only for 10 minutes each day, making an effort to engage in self-care can bring comfort, relief, and a huge boost of energy when you need it most. 

Handling Emotions

Navigating the emotional ups and downs during the grieving process takes focus and determination. Participating in self-care practices, like group therapy or personal journaling, can be an effective way to process and express our feelings. Taking care of our emotions also helps when we feel numb and may have a tendency to disconnect from our surroundings.

Strengthening Physical Wellbeing

Grief doesn't just take a toll on our minds; it can also wreak havoc on our bodies. To prevent potential health issues caused by the stress of grief, it is essential to embrace physical self-care practices. Engaging with our bodies and working up a sweat can be a great way to relieve stress, build our strength, and maintain a structure and schedule.

Rely on Your Support System

While grief may make us want to hole up in our room and hide from the world, it can have a negative impact on our own mental health. If you can, avoid staying in bed all day. Engaging in social activities with our loved ones allows us to rely on them for support and love, which is needed during times of loss. 

For more inspiration on how to care for ourselves after the death of a loved one, start by trying out some of the options on the following self-care checklist.

10 Self-Care Practices to Help Navigate Your Grief Journey

1- Join a Grief Support Group

One healthy way to cope with grief is by joining a grief support group. Whether you have an introverted or extroverted personality, expressing your feelings and thoughts is essential during grief. Seeking a support system from others, especially those experiencing the same struggle we are, can provide a broader perspective and make you feel heard. 

There are a number of group options that might fit your personality type and comfort level. These groups may vary in focus, style, and size and address different types of loss, such as the loss of a child, spouse, family member, or friend. You may encounter similar stories within these approaches that help you feel understood and validated. 

Support groups such as GriefShare provide a safe space to talk about difficult topics, such as loneliness, fear, and anger, while building connections and a sense of community. In doing so, they offer a comfortable environment for expressing ourselves without fear of judgment, positively affecting mental health and providing hope for those struggling with grief.

2- Embrace Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present, conscious, and aware of our actions. Practicing mindfulness enables us to fully embrace our emotions, thoughts, and sensations. During moments of grief, when we are likely to experience pain and confusion, mindfulness helps us go to a quiet place and work toward coping and healing.

Mindful grief can help you reduce stress, understand yourself, and improve your self-compassion. By simply sitting with your emotions and experiencing their depth and texture, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and remove some of the confusion and discomfort that can come with certain feelings inside. 

Grief-focused meditations, such as mindful deep breathing, can help support us through our healing journey. In addition to helping us live in the present moment, delving into meditation also allows us to cope with and alleviate the physical symptoms that come with grief.

By incorporating mindfulness into our grieving process, we can cultivate resilience and have moments of light amid the pain of loss.

3- Practice Physical Activity

Exercise is also a way of practicing self-care during the grieving process. When we engage in physical activity, we listen to and take care of our bodies, building strength and resilience.

Whether it's taking a 5-minute walk, hiking, or joining a spin class, physical activity is truly helpful for managing mental and physical health, enabling us to start feeling like ourselves again and creating a new routine for the future.

During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which contribute to feelings of well-being and pleasure. Acting as natural painkillers and enhancing mood, these hormones help us feel happier and more energized, improving our natural well-being.

4- Get Some Sleep

Sleep is an essential part of self-care. When we prioritize sufficient, restorative sleep, we enhance our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Besides promoting health and recovery, sleep is critical for cognitive functioning and mental clarity.

Focusing on this self-care strategy enhances our vitality and energy. Start by establishing a sleep routine. Unwind before bedtime, limit late-night electronics, and maintain consistent sleep cycles. Going to bed and waking up at the same time daily is vital for the circadian rhythm.

5- Incorporate Journaling

Another great way of promoting self-care is journaling. This approach involves the regular writing of personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a personal place that is just for you. Whether following structured prompts or freeform writing, journaling provides an outlet for self-expression, self-reflection, and personal growth. 

To gain a deeper understanding of our feelings after a significant loss, a grief journal provides a safe space for using words to express ourselves without judgment, honor our memories, and reflect on life.

After setting a comfortable time and space, one way to start delving into our thoughts is to try some grief journal prompts, such as “I have been feeling a lot of...” or “The hardest part about grief is…”

6- Fresh Air and Natural Light

Exposure to refreshing air and natural light are simple yet significant actions that enhance our overall well-being. In addition to higher oxygen levels, exposure to sunlight and nature stimulates neurotransmitters that improve our mood.

We can improve our health and the nature of the grieving process simply by opening curtains and windows and encouraging ourselves to spend time outside in our daily routine.

7- Eat Nutritious Food

Consuming healthy and nutritious meals is another simple approach to care for ourselves. Nutritious food promotes immunity, energy, and overall well-being. 

A well-balanced diet can help you navigate the stress of these difficult times. Aim for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure your body gets what it needs to function optimally so that it can be your ally rather than your enemy in the grieving process.

In addition to including healthy foods to satisfy our physical needs, it can also be important to allow ourselves to incorporate an occasional treat.

8- Listen to a Grief Podcast

In times of grief, listening to the experiences of others is another way we can care for ourselves. Grief podcasts exist in a variety of formats and styles and provide a platform to discuss new perspectives on life and death, often with experts on the subject. From insightful interviews to lighthearted anecdotes, podcasts offer a tool for reflecting on grief that you can access wherever and whenever is convenient for you.

Whether going on a walk, driving to work, or tidying our living spaces, podcasts like Griefcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, or Grief Encounters provide options that can suit any type of individual preference.

9- Explore Creative Self-Care

Artistic pursuits can also aid in self-care during grief without requiring innate artistic talent. Engaging in creative activities enables us to express and process our emotions freely.

Consider activities you enjoy, whether visual arts, singing, or dancing. These moments can inspire happiness and bring calmness to your soul. Connecting with our inner selves brings us one step closer to healing.

10- Go On a Personal Adventure

Everyone’s journey through grief is unique, so why not enhance yours by embarking on an adventure tailored just for yourself? Traveling holds healing power, offering an escape from the grip of sadness and providing space for personal introspection and reflection.

Planning a vacation to cope with grief is a compassionate act of self-care and personal growth. It allows for the compartmentalization of grief and enables you to expand your perspective and focus on living different aspects of life.

By breaking away from the routine and allowing ourselves to focus on something new, embarking on a journey nurtures our spirit with landscapes, cultures, and sensations that cater to our individual needs. If you don't feel comfortable traveling alone, invite a trusted friend or other special person to share the trip with you.

Unique Ways for Dealing with the Grieving Process

In addition to practicing self-care strategies such as exercise or meditation, there are other unique ways you can manage the grieving process.

Creating a tribute dedicated to the spirit of your loved one can be a constructive approach to confronting their loss and cherishing the joyful moments from their life journey. Among the uplifting and heartfelt ways to honor their memory, you might consider creating a meaningful memorial or representation that helps keep your friend or family member alive in your heart.

That could mean scattering their ashes in a meaningful place, creating a virtual photo collection, or planting a memorial tree in their memory where you can go and reflect on your relationship with them.

Create a Diamond in Their Honor

One way to transform the death of a loved one into a tribute to their legacy is by turning their cremation ashes into a diamond. At Eterneva, we understand how hard it can be to lose a person close to us. That's why we seek to help people continue to remember the remarkable lives of their loved ones after they are gone.

By creating a beautiful and distinctive diamond from the ashes of your loved one, you can carry them with you, keeping those cherished memories alive and serving as a constant reminder of the bond you shared. Your loved one's unique memorial diamond can be a beacon of light during challenging times, evoking positive emotions and memories of your relationship. 

And remember: keep your head up, take good care of yourself, and navigate your grief journey in the way that works for you.