Twelve Tips for people who are grieving

Twelve tips for people who are grieving

If you are going through grief and bereavement following the loss of your loved one, you are going through one of the most difficult experiences you will ever have. I know what you are going through because I have been there myself. In this blog post I am going to share six tips on how to deal with your grief when it is particularly painful in the mornings and six tips on how to deal with your grief when it is particularly painful in the evenings. Those twelve things have worked for myself in the early stages of my bereavement and I have also seen them work for many of my clients.

Six tips for when grief is worst in the mornings

If your grief is particularly strong in the morning, these six tips may help you to cope better:

  • Pick your clothes the night before and have them laid out so you aren’t taxing your brain with decisions in the morning. When we are in a lot of emotional pain, we don’t want to have to make decisions, and often we can’t, so it’s good to decide the evening before what we’re going to wear the next day so that’s one less thing to worry about.
  • Pick (and maybe even prepare) your breakfast the night before. Know what you are going to have and put together what you’ll need to make it the night before. If you are struggling to make decisions and function, the fewer decisions you have to make the better.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Research shows that going to bed and getting up at the same time helps; it promotes a good night’s sleep and it helps get up in the morning with ease.
  • Stick to a morning routine. Sometimes this can be particularly a hard one when we are going through grief. But it is really important to do this because it means less work for your brain. Pick the things you want/need to do, set an order to them, set a timeframe for them, and do your best to make that your routine.
  • Get your body moving when you get out of bed with a few simple stretches or exercises because this will help resist the temptation to go back to bed and help you to get going.
  • Make it part of your morning routine to practise gratitude in the morning. You can even just take a few minutes over your first cup of tea or coffee to write down three things you are grateful for. This will lift your mood instantly and remind you that despite your grief there is something that can make you smile, something you can appreciate, in your life.

Six tips on what to do when grief is worst in the evening

Let me say this again: If you are going through grief and bereavement following the loss of your loved one, you are going through one of the most difficult experiences you will ever have. As you know, I know what you are going through because I have been there myself.

Like for some people mornings can be the worst times of the day, for many others it is in the evenings that their grief feels worse. For many people it changes so that sometimes their grief feels worse in the morning and sometimes their grief feels worse in the evening. Here are some tips on what to do when your evenings feel worst:

  • Plan some activities for the evenings such as house projects, crafts, puzzles, crosswords, art, reading a book or even going out and being social at times and when you are up to it. The idea here is that, while we don’t want to distract ourselves all the time, the brain does need some breaks and we do need time for other things apart from our grief as suggested in the Dual Model of grief.
  • Sleep hygiene: go to bed always around the same time, keep screens out of your bedroom or at least don’t look at a screen when lying in bed, don’t be in front of a screen at least for one hour before going to bed, create a bedtime routine so that your brain knows you are winding down, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Keep your substance use in check. You might be using alcohol or another drug to pass the time during those long evenings and to numb some of your difficult feelings. This can feel good in the short term but will actually make you feel worse in the long term. So try and be aware of your substance use and you may want to limit your substance use so that you can enjoy it a little but not too much (one glass of wine, one Gin and Tonic, etc.).
  • Do some writing in the evenings before going to bed. Writing some words about your day can help to unburden yourself and you may find it easier to sleep.
  • Reach out to family and friends in the evenings. If you used to talk with your loved one regularly in the evenings and now you have no one to talk with, reach out to others. This is never going to replace talking with your loved one of course, but it can be nice to have someone to catch up with and process the highs and lows of your day.
  • I have already told you that writing down three things to be grateful for in the mornings is helpful. You can do the same practice in the evenings. When you look back at your day, pick the three things from your day that you were really grateful for. This will feel hard at times because you will find it difficult to find things to be grateful for when you are going through the pain of loss, but you will find more and more things over time.

 

I hope that some of the tips I have shared in this blog post will be of help to you as you are dealing with your grief.

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