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Managing Grief

Caring for yourself during the grieving process

April 2024

Coping with loss requires patience, self-compassion and support from others. (Photo courtesy Marcela via Flickr Commons)

by Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski, Contributing Columnist

The loss of a loved one, a pet or even a significant relationship, can derail our lives to a point where we forget to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, the pain is so great we seemingly would do anything to escape it.

Failing to properly process our emotions, however, often leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, alcohol consumption or checking out entirely. Moreover, failing to acknowledge the pain can often lead to a manifestation of physical symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue or migraines. Coping with loss requires patience, self-compassion and support from others.

The following are some effective strategies to help individuals manage grief and navigate the journey toward healing:


Avoid suppressing or denying your feelings. Permit yourself to feel through the pain so it doesn’t continue to pop up in other ways. Remember, our feelings are integral to our human experience.


Plenty of research supports the idea that human connection is vital to longevity. Sharing thoughts and feelings with others who empathize with your experience can provide comfort and validation. Try to avoid isolating yourself.


Grieving can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Engage in activities that nourish your body, mind and spirit, such as exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness meditation and adequate rest. Prioritizing self-care helps replenish energy reserves and fosters resilience in the face of grief.


Grieving is not a linear process. You may feel healed for a few days, then a thought or milestone might trigger your memory and you may feel sad again. Know there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself the time and space to mourn the loss uniquely. If you struggle to do this for yourself, try imagining yourself as the small child you once were. What would you say to them? What words of comfort or support would you offer?


Commemorating the deceased’s life can be a meaningful way to find solace. This could involve holding a memorial service, planting a tree in their honor, creating a memory box, or participating in meaningful activities to the deceased.


In the midst of grief, it’s natural to question the meaning and purpose of life. Engaging in activities that bring meaning and purpose can help individuals find solace and navigate the existential questions that arise during the grieving process. This could involve volunteering, pursuing creative outlets, or connecting with spiritual or religious practices that provide comfort and guidance.


In cases where grief becomes overwhelming or begins to significantly impact your daily activities, seeking professional help is essential. Grief counseling or therapy can provide individuals with tools, support and coping strategies to navigate through the complexities of grief and rebuild their lives.

Although it may not seem like it, grief is actually a good thing. Healthy grieving helps us move through difficult times and learn more about ourselves. By embracing emotions, seeking support, practicing self-care and finding meaning amidst grief, individuals can gradually navigate through the healing process and honor the memory of their loved ones. Remember, while grief may never fully disappear, it can soften over time, allowing space for healing, growth and renewal.

Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski is a certified nutrition counselor, weightlifting coach, life coach and stress-management specialist.

All health-related content and media provided by Cooperative Living or its website(s) is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.