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Coping with Grief and Loss: Strategies for Healing

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it can be expressed individually, as a family, and even as a community. The amount of time it takes to process grief varies with each person, and there is no right or wrong way to mourn. However, if you are experiencing complicated grief and the pain from your loss remains unresolved, it’s important to reach out for support and take the steps that will enable you to heal1.Here are some healthy ways to cope with grief and learn to heal:

  • Reach out for support: Having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. Even if you're not comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it's important to express them when you're grieving. While sharing your loss can make the burden of grief easier to carry, that doesn't mean that every time you interact with friends and family, you need to talk about your loss. Comfort can also come from just being around others who care about you. The key is not to isolate yourself.

  • Plan ahead for grief “triggers”: Anniversaries, holidays, and important milestones can reawaken painful memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. You can plan a special activity or visit a place that holds special meaning for you and your loved one.

  • Take care of yourself: When you're grieving, it's more important than ever to take care of yourself. That means looking after your physical health, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Exercise is a natural mood booster and stress reliever, so aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days.

  • Seek professional help: Although grief and mourning are normal responses to loss, for some people they can persist, and may overlap with traumatic experiences and reactions. This can lead to significant and lasting mental health or substance use challenges. If you find that feelings of grief are overwhelming and seem “stuck,” seek professional mental health support.

There are also several resources available to help you cope with grief and loss. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a tip sheet with information about grief, the grieving process, and what happens when the process is interrupted and complicated or traumatic grief occurs. TRU Community Care offers quarterly Grief Services Newsletters that provide compassionate and spiritual guidance for coping with loss. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been studying how we process grief and are learning more about healthy ways to cope with loss.

Remember, healing from grief takes time, and there is no right or wrong way to mourn. Be kind to yourself and seek support when you need it.


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