Coping techniques: Bereavement

Please note that you should always consult with your physician before making any changes in your diet, your level of exercise and activity, medication or behaviors related to substance use.

The best way to make use of these techniques is to read through them, select three that stand out to you and practice them. I would be glad to hear from you on your responses.

  1. Practice compassion for yourself. Allow yourself to feel what comes to you. Grief, sadness, don’t “get better” by being ignored, and crying is not a sign of weakness. Compassion includes forgiveness.
  2. Reach out to supportive others with whom you can express your loss. People who have themselves gone through bereavement can be very helpful. Talking about your loss, telling the story of it, will increase your acceptance of it. This acceptance, as painful as it is, is the first task of bereavement.
  3. Consider decreasing use of alcohol or drugs, which are likely to interfere with your ability to feel and acknowledge your emotional responses.
  4. Express your grief in a concrete way. Collage a box in memory of who or what you’ve lost, or create a memory book. If it feels right, create a sacred space in their honor that might hold their picture or an object that was important to them. In Buddhist culture animals intended to be used for food are sometimes purchased and released in the name of the deceased. Write a letter in which you say everything you never said or that you’ve said already and need to say again. Consider including, along with your love and longing, any anger you might feel at being left, or how afraid you felt during that process, or even relief you might now feel that the process is over.
  5. Although bereavement is part of the human experience, it’s also a personal one. The way your friends, or family, or the authors of some very fine books on grief and loss (such as C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed) have experienced grief is not necessarily the way that you do. No one knows how long you should grieve, how intensely, what your range of emotions will be. Allow the feelings to be present.
  6. Be patient with the process. Focus on today.
  7. Plan ahead for challenging days, such as holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.
  8. If possible put off making important decisions during the first stages of grief.
  9. Look after yourself in this period. Make sure that you eat, get sufficient sleep, take some form of exercise.
  10. Remind yourself that it’s all right to take breaks from bereavement.
  11. To read more on bereavement and healing from loss, follow this link or this link to an articles on these issues.