Tools to help you get through grief

Following the death of a family member or friend, you may find you are struggling to cope in all manner of ways. There are many tools aimed at trying to help you to process and manage your grief, over time making you feel stronger.

Grief is a complex and highly personal emotion that affects us all in very different ways. Whilst it is a very natural part of the healing process it can feel extremely tough to cope with. It is often associated with a range of emotions, from anger, confusion, sadness, guilt, shock, to exhaustion and depression.

It’s far from a linear process and there is seemingly no finite end to the emotions or rationale for why or when they hit you. Some people may find they want to withdraw from others but hiding away always a positive response. Talking about grief and opening up, as tough as it may feel, can help. Likewise, there are many tools available to help support your experience of grief, providing comfort at such a challenging time.

Bereavement and grief counselling

Professional support is available for those who need it and involves counselling from a professional who is trained and qualified. It is just one of the tools to help you process your experiences of grief. Counsellors can help you to understand your feelings and adapt to life without your family member or friend in it. Professional grief counselling is something that should be considered if your life is impaired, if you are experiencing intense longing and yearning for your family member or friend, and if it feels like too much to bear. Many people find that by choosing a counsellor who they feel comfortable with they can gain support, education, and assistance with deeper healing. Our related guide 'Bearevement Loss' provides some further information.

Support groups – connect with others in a similar situation

You may find connecting with other people who are experiencing a similar situation beneficial. Sharing your stories with others may assist you in processing your feelings and help you to feel less alone and aid you to learn coping skills. You may be able to find:

  • Virtual group meetings
  • Online forums
  • One-on-one chat rooms
  • In-person events

Journaling – keeping a grief journal

This is a written account describing your feelings and your thoughts. It can be a positive way to help you understand yourself and your grief. Journaling for some is an effective way to reflect and to record significant memories and thoughts and may lead you to having more clarity about your situation as well as developing new perspectives. By recording memories in a journal, you will have something to look back on and discover how far you have progressed along your journey. There is no set time as to how long you should keep going with your journal although some people find that it becomes part of their life, others may only need it for a short period of time.

Reading – books to help guide you through grief

Reading is another one of the key tools to help support you. Choosing the right book to read can be a comfort during the grief process. There are lots of books on the subject, which can provide reassurance that you are not alone and can be a form of escape as well as a way of processing your emotions.

The above books are recommendations that our clients have shared with us, having found them a source of comfort and advice.

Mindfulness – meditation, breathing techniques and yoga

Mindfulness exercises such as meditation, yoga and breathing techniques can be useful tools to help you to manage your grief. These exercises can often reduce the pain associated with grief and can help to lessen its psychological and physical effects, including a lack of concentration, poor memory, and difficulty in sleeping and mindfulness exercises can support overall good health and wellbeing.

Mindful breathing and meditation are techniques that have been practiced for centuries. Meditation is a tool to help with grief by addressing life’s challenges such as depression, anxiety, and pain. Mindful meditation will allow you to pay attention to what you are feeling in the present with a non-judgemental and curious attitude. There are also rest and relaxation tools including listening to sleep stories with many apps available. These can help you manage stress and anxiety and assist you in sleeping better.

Rituals – sharing photos, lighting candles and visiting favourite places

Rituals are another one of the tools to help you navigate through the challenging path of grief. They can be an important part of the healing process and provide order to the chaos you may be feeling. They can involve candles, food or a special place with every culture having its own rituals that influence the expression of grief. Rituals can help to relieve the burden of grief by promoting acceptance, allowing emotional expression and giving an element of control. The ritual should be tailored to your belief system, your environment and of course the particular death of a family member or friend. They present a wonderful way to honour your family member or friend and to share your feelings and your thoughts. Take time to think of the rituals that will help you to work through your grief.

  • Share photos and talk about your family member or friend
  • Create a memory box
  • Visit their favourite place
  • Plan remembrance activities
  • Plant something in remembrance
  • Write a letter to your family member or friend

How can we help you with your personal experience of grief?

Living with grief is a deeply personal experience and is different for everyone. Here we have explored some of the myriad of tools to help you to manage your grief. In addition to these tools, support from family members and friends is key, drawing them closer and not pushing them away. Expressing your feelings is important when grieving. Here at CPJ Field, we have developed the Never Alone programme where we continue to support you after the funeral service, helping you to manage your grief and to continue life without your family member or friend in it. Never Alone was launched in 2018 and is a series of community initiatives designed to help tackle loneliness and build links between people and their local communities.