Heart Connections – Daily Actions to Support Grief

Grief is felt and experienced differently depending on the time frame since the death of your child, sibling, or grandchild. It’s common to feel overwhelmed and hopeless at any time, but especially when the loss is more recent. When those painful waves hit, you can take small steps to better support those moments. Some of the immediate things that help shift your feelings include moving your body, adjusting your environment, being in nature, and connecting with someone.

Taking a walk or practicing yoga moves your body in a way that aids the physical effects of grief. The combination of moving your physical body and changing your breathing affects your thinking and can gently shift current painful thoughts. Spending moments in nature similarly shifts your energy. Taking 20 minutes to tend a garden, water shrubs or flowers, or feel snowflakes fall on your face in the winter, helps to soothe you when you’re feeling significant distress. Then it’s easier to move forward with your day.

If a pet or animal is part of your life, spending some calm moments with them can comfort you when you’re in pain. Hugging a dog or cat, touching their soft fur, listening to their heartbeat and soft breathing, and sharing gentle space with them has a calming effect. These small actions quiet your nervous system in ways that human interaction sometimes may not. Taking a few minutes to play with a pet also shifts your distress and can bring a needed smile.

Reaching out to talk with a comforting and supportive loved one when feeling low reinforces your human connectedness. You don’t need to seek answers or have deep conversations. Hearing the life and vitality in someone else’s voice helps as a surrogate for the life energy you may be struggling to feel. Feeling the warm voice of a friend or enjoying the belly laugh of a toddler can help lift you in that moment.

The grief and sorrow you feel are directly related to the deep and profound love you have for your child, brother, sister, or grandchild who has died. While you can’t erase those moments of sorrow, small actions can nudge you forward when you can’t find your way. You can give yourself these small steps of care at any time and ask for help from those you love to remind you to practice these whenever they are needed.

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Comments (6)

  • Thank you so much. I am in a group.I have met lasting friends in the Compasionate friends group.

  • So true. I had a moment last night and colored helped. Another time my dog knew and came to snapped me out of it.

  • I lost my beloved cat (18 years) at the same time that I became estranged from my newly binary child (formerly daughter). I am a “mess”

  • Thank you for these words. My son is nearing the end of his stage IV cancer – probably just a few months left. This has been THE most horrific journey of my life over the last almost 2 years. We have developed an even deeper relationship that I cherish.

    I have been searching in vain for an online group for those experiencing anticipatory grief. I really need that therapy, but cannot find it. Do you have any information that might be helpful? I would dearly appreciate it. I am going to join your group when the time comes.

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