Right to Mourn

Following are some suggestions for people who are mourning the death of a loved one. Different kinds of losses call for different responses, so not all of these ideas will suit everyone. Also, since grief is unique to each person and each loss, what works for one may not work for another. Treat this list for what it is: a gathering of assorted ideas that various people have tried with success. Perhaps what helped them through their grief will help you.

1. Talk regularly with a friend
Talking regularly about what you think and feel is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It helps relieve some of the pressure you may feel, it gives you a sense of perspective, and it keeps you in touch with others

2. Walk
Go for walks outside every day if you can. Don’t overdo it, but walk briskly enough that it feels invigorating. Sometimes try walking slowly enough so you can look carefully at whatever is around you. Observe what nature has to offer and what it can teach you.

3. Carry or wear a linking object
Carry something in your pocket or purse that reminds you of the one who died – a keepsake they gave you perhaps, or a small object they once carried or used, or a memento you have selected for just this purpose. Whenever you want, reach for or look at this object and remember what it signifies.

4. Visit the grave
Not all people prefer to do this. But if it feels right to you, then do so. Don’t let others convince you this is a morbid thing to do. Spend whatever time feels right there. Stand or sit in the quietness and do what comes naturally – be silent or talk, breathe deeply or cry, recollect, meditate, or pray.

5. Create a memory book
Compile photographs that were taken through the years which document your loved one’s life. Arrange them into some sort of order so they tell a story. Add other elements if you want: diplomas, newspaper clippings, awards, honors, accomplishments. Remember as you do so.

6. Recall your dreams
Your dreams often have important things to say about your feelings and about your relationship with the one who died. Your dreams may be scary or sad, especially early on. They may seem weird or crazy to you. You may find that your loved one appears in your dreams in various ways, or he may not appear at all. Accept your dreams, write them down and reflect on them to see what might be learned from them.

7. Tell people what helps you and what doesn’t
People around you may not understand what you need – so tell them. If hearing your loved one’s name spoken aloud by others feels good, say so. If you need more time alone, or assistance with chores you find you’re unable to do, or just an occasional hug, be honest. People really do want to help, but they can’t read your mind, so you’ll have to speak it.

8. Write things down
Most people who are grieving become more forgetful than usual. So help yourself remember what you want by keeping track of it on paper or with whatever system works best for you. This may include writing down things you want to preserve about the person who has died.

9. Ask for a copy of the memorial service
If the funeral liturgy or memorial service held special meaning for you because of what was spoken or read, ask for the words or images. Whoever participated in that ritual will feel gratified that what they prepared was appreciated. Turn to these whenever you want.

10. Plant something living as a memorial
Plant a flower, a bush, or a tree in memory of the one who died. Or plant several things. Do this ceremonially if you wish, perhaps with others present, perhaps not. If you do this where you live, you can watch it grow and change day by day, season by season.

11. Plan at least one thing you’ll do each day
Even if your grief is very painful and your energy very low, plan ahead to complete at least one thing each day, even if it’s very small. Then follow through with your plan, day after day. Help yourself feel that you’re not entirely at the mercy of the powerful experience – there are some things you can do.

12. Spend time in your loved one’s space
Try sitting in your loved one’s favorite chair, lying on their side of the bed, or just standing for a few moments in their room among their possessions. Trust that you will know what’s right for you.

13. Journal
Write out your thoughts and feelings. Do this whenever you feel the urge, but do it at least several times a week, if not several times a day. Don’t censor what you write. In time, go back through your writings and notice how you’re changing and growing. Write about that, too. The TrueSolace journaling option provides prompts to help get you writing.