By Erica S. Schwartz, MSSW, LCSW

When we lose someone that we love, it’s just plain hard…and it stinks! There are so many emotions that swirl within us it can be difficult to know how to deal with the loss.  Today, we’re going to share with you specific things that you can do to help ease your pain.

  1. Get it out! One of the best ways to deal with grief is to acknowledge and process whatever feelings you are having. Try different ways to process these emotions to see what works best for you. One way is to write about what you are feeling and going through. This can be done in a paper journal or a file on your computer. Sometimes, it is difficult to find the words to express how you are feeling or what you are thinking. Trying something creative can be very helpful! Paint, color, sculpt! Use your creativity to make something that represents your emotions. The creative process can be very therapeutic. If not, destroying the project at the end can sometimes help you deal with anger or frustration that is common with grief. Mindfulness is a practice that keeps us in the here and now. It helps us to acknowledge our feelings and experience them rather than pushing the emotions down and not dealing with them.
  1. Be kind to yourself! Self-kindness is a practice where we use language with ourselves that we would use with people we love to help them through a difficult time. For instance, identify your feelings and then recognize that you are not the only one who is feeling like that. Many others have experienced the same kind of feelings. Say kind words to yourself and repeat them. The kind of words you would say to a close friend or loved one. “You are feeling sad and it’s ok.” “You are feeling lonely. I am here for you.” “You are angry that he left you. It’s ok to feel angry at someone who has died.” Find a kind statement that feels good to you and repeat it to yourself when those negative thoughts creep in. It may feel awkward at first, but keep at it! Being kind to yourself takes practice!
  1. Find meaning! Many times, the cause of our grief leaves us with unanswered questions. For most, the why of the situation will not have a fulfilling answer. To help create meaning out of the situation, find a cause to support that was important to the person who has died. Put your energy into a volunteer opportunity in the person’s memory. Maybe you have an idea for a new project that will keep you connected to your loved one. Organize a hike, raise money for a beloved charity, collect blankets for an animal rescue. Doing good and supporting something that was important to your loved one helps to create a new kind of relationship with that person.


Erica Schwartz is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked in a variety of settings throughout her career. Most recently she worked as a hospice social worker and now works supporting families with Hospice of the Valley’s pediatric hospice team and supporting families as a Bereavement Counselor for New Song Center for Grieving Children.