Grief can often be a lonely and isolating experience. For many, grief never ends although our minds will work to find a way to cope with it and accept it as our new normal. Emotions of grief can vary in intensity, duration, and frequency. However, the pain or feelings of hopelessness can begin to dull and at some point, you should be able to return to your routines that were in place before the bereavement. Grief stays to remind us of those no longer with us and how much they meant to us. For everyone, grief is different; no two people grieve the same.

You may be fortunate enough to have a support network of people who will rally around and provide reassuring words and a comforting embrace. You may also be able to distract yourself from the intense feelings of grief by throwing yourself into your usual, everyday routine and responsibilities.

However, you may be forced to grieve alone and if that is the case, here is some advice to help you if grieving in isolation.

Tips for grieving alone

Maintain your connections with loved ones

Although the pain you are experiencing may often cause you to withdraw from family and friends, connection with family and friends is important for the healing process. Comfort can come from simply having people around you. If distance prevents you from face-to-face contact, you can still maintain relationships through video links such as FaceTime or Skype. FaceTime is available on Apple devices, and Skype allows you to keep in touch with free video chat, messaging, and affordable international calls. Phone calls are also a great way of maintaining connections. Talk to family and friends through video links and phone calls about what you are going through and let them be a virtual shoulder to cry on.

Draw comfort from your faith

You can also draw comfort from the religious tradition you follow, embracing the mourning rituals. At home you can pray, meditate, and read. Solace can be found in literature and music. And practicing meditation and mindfulness can help you to stay grounded and manage overwhelming emotions. If you find you are questioning your faith, reach out to the leader of your place of worship.

Join a support group

To prevent grieving by yourself, you can join a support group. This will consist of people who gather together and are facing similar emotions. You may find that sharing your grief with people who are going through a bereavement can help as they offer support, encouragement, and comfort. A support group is a safe place where you can receive practical and constructive information and advice. Contact local hospices, hospitals, counselling centres and of course your local funeral home to find bereavement support.

Remember to take care of yourself

At this time, the smallest tasks may have become very difficult, and it’s important to look after yourself. Try to eat nourishing food, get plenty of rest and exercise regularly. Going for a walk or the gym is not only good for your physical well-being, but also mentally, as you meet and engage with people. Always go to the shops and supermarket for your food as again, you are getting out of your home. Try not to be tempted by at home deliveries unless absolutely unavoidable. Freshly prepared meals are good for your physical health and make sure to drink plenty of water. Sleep when you feel the need and let your body be your guide as it works to heal you in your time of need. Don’t be tempted to use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief.

Maintain or find hobbies and interests

Routine can be comforting and can bring joy as you connect with the people you know. Maintain your hobbies such as going to the gym, swimming, tennis, and golf or going to craft groups. When you feel ready, you could try joining a new club or trying a new activity; it offers a positive distraction from your daily routine and is an opportunity to meet new people.

Be careful with social media

Initially, social media may be a good way of letting friends and family know about the death of someone close to you. It can be a good way to reach out for support. However, be careful how you use social media and use closed groups rather than public postings.

Plan ahead for grief triggers

Grief triggers can vividly bring back memories of the past and the ways you used to celebrate special days and holidays. These can include birthdays, or anniversaries and other important milestones. By planning ahead, you can make sure you are not alone on such events. You can mark the date in a creative way such as by organising a lunch, supper or a trip to a venue or event. People are usually very supportive and will help make the day easier.

Be gentle with yourself

Remember, grief is completely normal. It’s also scary, painful and, at times, debilitating. Don’t talk to yourself using harsh language. For instance: ‘I should be doing this by now’. Grief has no time frame and everyone is different. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself time to grieve – you won’t feel like this forever.

Talk to professionals and utilise helplines

You may find it beneficial to talk with a therapist or grief counsellor. An experienced professional can assist you in working through the emotions you are experiencing. You can opt for in-person therapy or go online. There are several helplines, with trained professionals, that can either provide you with advice or support you emotionally at this difficult time. Some also have online chat features if you would rather not talk in person:

    Here are a few more things you could try:

    • Visit your local library
    • Join a book club, knitting group, bridge club etc.
    • Explore meet-up groups
    • Learn a new skill – language, DIY skills, gardening etc.
    • Take a holiday or a weekend away
    • Try volunteering to meet people

    How CPJ Field can help with grieving alone

    It's quite normal to experience a sense of emptiness and to feel disconnected following the death of a close family member or friend. However, it is important to take one step at a time and remember it is a unique journey for everyone. CPJ Field is committed to caring for friends and family left behind. Our ‘Never Alone’ programme provides information and guidance on how to reduce feelings of loneliness. It offers emotional or practical support and well-being advice. Information about how to access local services is also included. We also run a number of community initiatives and by providing these we hope to make a difficult time a little easier.