13 Ways to Handle Grief After the Loss of a Loved One

13 Ways to Handle Grief After the Loss of a Loved One

Grief and loss are never easy to deal with. But by doing some or all of these simple steps, you will discover that life has a way of healing your pain. Living with and loving someone for many years, through the joys and difficulties, has already made you stronger than you realize.

1. Pray for Strength

Grief is one of the hardest things anyone can face in life. It is very painful and can take a long time to process. This is why you must rely on your faith to carry you through. Pray when you need help and strength. Trust that your prayers will be answered. God will give you the strength you need to face anything. All you have to do is ask for help and you will be helped.

Know that you are loved every minute of every day, and you are never alone. Whatever your religious beliefs are, now is the time for faith. Ask for help in dealing with your sorrow, and pray for the strength you need to endure.

 2. Cry When You Feel Like it

Pain is something that hits you on and off, no matter what you are doing. No one expects you to act like nothing has changed in your life. If you need to cry, just cry. It’s ok to let your feelings out, and it’s healthy to express your emotions. Understand that your sadness will lessen as time goes by and allow yourself the time and space you need to cry about what has happened.

3. Keep a Journal

Whatever you are feeling, it’s a good idea to write it down. Buy a nice journal and make it part of your day to spend time thinking and writing about what’s going on. It’s amazing how much it helps to express your thoughts, and then if you need to, you can read over what you have written.

It will help you to process your emotions and sort out what you want to do next. Try to think positive and surround yourself with positive thoughts and prayers that you like. Pin positive thoughts on the wall around the house.


4. Call or Write to Friends and Family

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to just talk to your friends and family. Make some phone calls or write to the people in your life that you are closest to.

Avoid being isolated from friends. You need to see them and they need to see you, to know that you are okay. Talking with your friends is a good way to talk about all the good memories you have made together, and that will make you feel better.

Find ways to do things for your friends and family, because that will make you feel good. Help someone else, and you automatically help yourself.

5. Remember to Stay Busy

One of the most important steps you can take is to just stay busy. Fill your days with activities. Do the things you enjoy. Find new things to do. Spend time doing the things that need to be done around the house. Organize your belongings. Clean out closets. Go through and sort out things that need to be sorted. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment, which will raise your spirits. Avoid spending time being inactive.

6. Set Simple Goals

Every day, or every week, you can make a list of some of the simple goals you want to do for that week. It can be anything at all. Ask yourself what you would like to do. Decide what is important for you to get done. You can even list things that might be easy, like doing some exercises, or planning your meals.

As long as you have goals, you will have things to look forward to. Life goes on, and this way you will feel like you can do what needs to be done to take care of yourself.


7. Go Somewhere New

Think of somewhere you would like to go. Getting out of the house is a great way to help you change your focus. Think of places you want to see and make some plans to go somewhere you have never been, but always wanted to go. Take a trip, when you are ready, because traveling lets you explore new places and experience new things and feelings.

8. Live in The Moment

It is very important not to let yourself get stuck in your past memories. The past is over and gone. The only thing real is right now, this moment, and what you are doing.

Let yourself experience the moment. Slow down. Stop to experience the beauty of your surroundings. Find something to appreciate, whether it’s listening to your favorite music, watching the birds, playing with your pets, or watching water flowing over a fountain. Things like watching the flames in a fireplace, or enjoying beautiful scenery, are great ways to live in the moment.

Get outside and breathe the fresh air. Go for walks in some of your favorite locations and you will learn to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty of life. The simple things in life are some of the most beautiful and the most soothing to your soul.

9. Be Good to Yourself

This is one of the most important things you can do. Just be good to yourself. Find simple ways to appreciate who you are and love who you are.

This can be as simple as shopping for a new pair of shoes, or going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Reward yourself, because you deserve it. Love yourself because you are loved. Be good to yourself in even the smallest of ways, and it will help ease your sorrow, and help you learn to live without the person who has passed away.


You took care of them, and now it’s time for you to take care of you. Grief comes from trauma, so you need therapy, and being good to yourself is good therapy.

10. Start a Creative Project

Find something creative that you like to do. Start a new hobby, or take up an old hobby that you enjoy. Do something that requires your attention to be focused.

This doesn’t have to be something complicated or hard. In fact, the simpler it is, the better it is. Just do something to stay busy. Make something, bake something, or create something fun. Art is great therapy. Choose something you like and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Being creative is an excellent way to stimulate the feel good hormones in your brain. Plus, you will have something to show for your efforts when it is finished.

11. Learn Something New

When you feel ready, you can take another step that will help you tremendously: learning something new. This can be anything you want to learn. Whether it is learning to play a musical instrument like the piano or guitar, or taking a class of some sort, or learning a new computer program. Whatever you do, it will benefit you in more ways than you can know.

When you get into learning mode, it allows you to focus your energy away from your pain and onto something else. Don’t make it something hard. Just make it something you really want to learn. Then your desire and your ability will help you get the positive motivation you need to accomplish your goal. All you have to do is decide what your goal is and get started.


12. Treasure Your Memories

Take the time you need to treasure your memories. For instance, you can organize all your photos of all the time spent with your loved one. This will help you feel good about everything in general. Plus, it can be enjoyable too review photos.

But, do this only when you are ready to do it. If you do it too soon, it will be too painful, so wait until you are really ready to see the photos. Treasuring your memories will help you feel grateful for all the good times you spent with your loved one. Gratitude is a very beneficial attitude.

13. Spend Time With Loved Ones

Getting out and doing things with your family and friends is a very important way to deal with grief. Understand that everyone who loves you is willing and ready to help you get on with your life.

This will take time, of course, but just making the effort to spend time with others will keep you active, and help you face any emotions you need to express. Reach out to everyone around you, because you need those connections.

You are loved and needed by your friends and family. This never changes, and the good feelings that come from spending time with those you love are the most wonderful feelings in life.

Everything you do from now on needs to be focused on taking care of yourself and learning to move on with your life. Remember to pray for strength, cry when you need to, keep a journal, call or write friends, stay busy, set simple goals, go somewhere new, live in the moment, be good to yourself, be creative, learn something new, treasure your memories, and spend time with those you love. These simple steps will help you deal with your loss and move ahead with your life in positive and constructive ways.


Featured photo credit: Photo by Karen Bresnahan via

More by this author

Karen Bresnahan


14 Fun Ways to Give Cash at Weddings, Parties and on Holidays 13 Ways to Handle Grief After the Loss of a Loved One 9 Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me couple at sunset 20 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ With Photos 3 Easy Ways to Shake the After-Holiday Blues

Trending in People in a relationship

1 Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science 2 4 Proven Ways to Strengthen Relationships 3 How to Create a Date She Never Forgets 4 How to Handle High-Tension Situations and Tough Conversations 5 Make Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Gift Ideas

Read Next


Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.


With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via


[1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
[2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
[3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
[4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
[5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

Read Next