BASIC HEALING PRACTICES
There is a range of options for dealing with your grief in a healthy and conscious way. You may find that some will work for you, and some will not. Some of the activities mentioned below may be difficult or impossible, but the range of options available means you can choose and try as you see fit. Keep in mind that none of these suggestions is a surefire solution, as not everything works for everyone. Let go of your expectations, take your time, and find out what works for you.
First understand that there is no “correct” way to grieve. Grieving is not something you should be expected to simply “get over.” Rather, it is a process of learning how to live in a world without your loved one. It is quite normal to experience a variety of high and low emotions over a long period of time.
Take Care of Yourself
The stress of grieving can take its toll on your mind and body, so continuing to meet your emotional and physical needs is of the utmost importance. Don’t neglect your health and well-being. Make sure you continue to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. You may want to try holistic options to treat your grief symptoms.
Talk to People
While some people prefer to grieve in private, some find talking to people immensely helpful. No one should be expected to grieve alone. Accept assistance when it is offered to you, and let people know if you want to talk. Be specific when expressing your needs to others. Most people want to help, but simply don’t know how.
Join Grief Support
Research support groups that meet in your area. By talking to others who are grieving, you can find a healthy outlet for your thoughts and feelings amongst people who may be having similar experiences. You can also seek out therapy with a grief counselor, who is trained to assist you in working through your intense emotions.
Keep Your Loved One’s Favorite Belongings
Give yourself time, at least a year, before making any decisions regarding your loved one’s things. While it was once thought that those grieving should rid themselves of old personal objects in order to “move on,” we now know that people can connect strongly with the person they’ve lost through their belongings.
Holding onto personal objects can help you keep cherished memories alive, and you may gain comfort from the sensory experience of the object. Enjoy the familiar smells, touch, and sounds associated with your memories. It could be wearing their favorite sweater, calling their old phone number once in a while, or carrying a special watch in your pocket.
Draw Comfort From Spirituality and Religion
If you are religious, you may find comfort in the mourning traditions of your religion. Ritual has a profound effect on the human spirit and can greatly aid the healing process. If you are spiritual, praying or meditating can be soothing exercises and can help you find peace under new circumstances. Take the opportunity to talk to clergy and other spiritual leaders in your community. Understand that it is not uncommon to question your spirituality after the shock of a loss. Approach your beliefs at your own pace, until you find a comfortable relationship with them.
Express Yourself Creatively
If you enjoy or thrive on creative expression, you may want to make it part of your grieving process. Focusing on creative projects under the duress of grief may be difficult, but this feeling generally passes as your grief evolves. Take the time to write in a journal, keep a blog, create a memory book, or sew a quilt out of old clothing. Find an outlet in drawing and painting, poetry, or music. Perhaps you’d like to get involved in a cause that was close to the heart of the person you lost. Finding a productive way to work through your grief and create something beautiful from the experience can be immensely therapeutic, and your work may even inspire others who are also grieving.
Spend Time Practicing Favorite Hobbies
If you are ready and willing to engage in activities, try keeping yourself busy doing the things you’ve always enjoyed. Go see a movie, visit your library, take hikes, work in the garden, or participate in a book club. Keep up with your favorite projects or perhaps find something new that interests you.
Engage in Physical Activity
Get outside in the fresh air, appreciate your surroundings, and simply meditate on new life perspectives. Join a gym or yoga class, or try new walking routes and locations. Your area may include a walking labyrinth, which can be a peaceful place to get some calming, meditative exercise.
Seek Out Healing Art and Literature
Watch films, seek out exhibits, or read books and stories that deal with loss. Find narratives that you relate to and gain comfort in.
Talk to a Doctor
You may feel that speaking to a trained professional will help you to cope with the emotional and physical stress of grief. If so, or if you are having great difficulty in performing everyday tasks, consult with your physician about your options. Many find that properly-prescribed drugs can lighten the burden of grief and aid in the healing process.
Join a Healing Retreat
A day spa or retreat can be a vital physical and mental experience to help you mend, rejuvenate, and begin your new life. A day of relaxation and massage at a local spa, or a weekend or weeklong retreat, either group or solo, with healing activities and possibly spiritual guidance can lift your spirits.
Invite dialogue about the person you lost. It can be as simple as mentioning his or her name, recalling a fond memory, or saying when you miss him or her the most. These won’t always become deep and emotional conversations, but they will keep your loved one’s memory alive and allow your family to share openly with each other.
Go on Family Outings
Connect with your family by going on trips together to places that hold special significance, either to your lost loved one or to the family as a whole. Visit a childhood home, picnic in a favorite park, or go to a place you all associate with happy memories. Something as simple as having a family meal together can be comforting.
Keep Old Traditions and Make New Ones
You may find comfort in family traditions, such as favorite holiday meals or ritual gift exchanges. Keep practicing the ones you love, but also try starting new traditions. This can allow your family to discover a healthy balance between honoring the past and moving toward the future while recognizing the changes in your lives following the loss of your child.
Look at Family Photos
We are increasingly recognizing that it is healthy to hold onto old memories, rather than cast them off in an attempt to “move on.” Looking at photos of those you love can bring about close memories or times that you’ve shared together. Spend time going through old photo albums and reminisce together about the happy times you had with your loved one. Reminiscing can make you feel better through difficult times, and your family can collectively keep memories alive in your hearts.
Create a Memorial or Memory Object
A family may find a shared sense of closure through a personal memorial. Planting a tree or a garden, making a memory book, sharing photographs, creating an art piece, or recording favorite stories about your loved one can aid in healing while bringing your grieving family closer together. Read about how one family made a poignant home memorial to a lost wife and mother.
You may find that holistic methods can enhance, complement, or replace traditional healing methods to help you through grief. By considering these options, you may find the right combination of methods that will lead you towards peace of mind.
Based on traditional Chinese practices, acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into strategic points of the body. It is believed that acupuncture stimulates your body’s energy flows and improves overall health. Some acupuncture providers offer specific grief and loss healing, which targets particular points in your body that deal with emotion and letting go.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils and fragrances to stimulate physiological responses for mental and physical health. Essential oils come from various sources, including flowers, wood, leaves, herbs, spices, and fruit. By combining oils that evoke strong, positive responses, aromatherapy can be used to treat grief symptoms and improve mood and mental health.
Yoga has deep physical and spiritual foundations that can aid in healing after a loss. Practicing yoga can allow you to harness a new body-mind connection, control emotions through positioning and deep breathing, and gain new perspectives on life and self.
Reiki is a spiritual Japanese practice meant to treat both your body and mind. It involves a reiki practitioner placing their hands over strategic points on your body in a soothing way, as the practitioner's palms transfer your life force energy and restore your body's equilibrium. Many find it to be deeply relaxing, as well as a wonderful healing practice.
Crystal Bowl Healing
Crystal bowl therapy focuses on the healing power of sound. The crystal bowls are set to different frequencies, creating sounds that resonate with the body. These ringing sounds are said to have healing effects on body and mind and can be immensely peaceful to listen to. Crystal bowl singing is used in music therapy, meditation, yoga, religious services, relaxation, and personal well-being.