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4 Less Common Ideas to Help Heal Grief
By Emily R Long

1. Be Creative

Draw, write, paint, sculpt, knit, crotchet, cross stitch, make up a game, decorate, bake, make a collage, garden, sing, dance, cook, journal, rearrange the furniture, sew, color, fingerpaint... the list is endless.

Creativity isn't this big thing only "artists" can do. We are all artists. Creativity is in anything that makes us feel alive. You don't have to be Monet or Picasso - be the parent who makes silly faces with your kids or the beach goer who writes and draws in the sand with your toes.

It doesn't matter so much what you do here - or if you are "good" at it. Just the simple act of being creative in any way can be immensely healing.

2. Be Grateful

I've heard about how keeping a gratitude journal can make huge improvements in mood and mindset for years. It was just a few month ago, however, that I consistently began to keep one.

I write 5 things I am grateful for every night. Some nights it's a huge challenge to find 5 things. Those nights my list includes things like "I am still breathing" or "I have a roof over my head." Other nights I could easily write dozens of things. Those nights my list includes things like "the colorful swirl of fall leaves in the wind" and "the funny expressions on my cat's face."

I can't tell you how much of a profound difference this daily gratitude acknowledgment has made on how I see my day and my life.

Note: It may feel like focusing on the beauty in your life and all that you are grateful for is denying the pain or loss in your life. It's not. Life is not either or, it's both. Life can contain both beauty and pain, gratitude and loss. My gratitude list has included items such as "the pain I experienced" or "depression" and even "grief." I am grateful for those things because they helped create who i am now and they helped transform my life. Acknowledging the beautiful does not negate the painful.

3. Be part of a group

This doesn't necessarily need to be a grief support group although it can be.

Groups are powerful. The collective energy of a group can have a powerful impact. The collective support of a group can create powerful healing for each individual in it.

Join a class, take a workshop, be part of community organization, participate in a play, join a community sports team, take an e-Seminar, go on a retreat, join a support group, be part of a book club or a scrapbooking group. Again, the list is endless.

4. Be Active

Grief can be overwhelming. Because it often is, we sometimes only want to curl up in bed or on the couch and vegetate. And there are times when vegetating and naps and rest are very good and helpful in our healing. However, movement is also needed. Healing requires both rest and movement.

I find that getting outside helps me the best - I favor walks in a park and hiking in the mountains or on the beach. Others prefer going to a gym or indoor tracks. Choose whatever works for you. Movement reminds us that we are alive and even in the times we feel most stuck, we are going forward. It also raises those lovely endorphins in our brain that give us that natural emotional boost!

Emily Long is the President and Founder of International Association of Grief Support Providers (currently in start-up). She is a National Certified Counselor and earned her master's degree in Community Agency Counseling from East Tennessee State University. Emily has worked with diverse populations in standard and alternative mental health settings that include inpatient hospitals and outpatient clinics, crisis intervention, in the schools, and on a therapeutic ropes course doing individual, couple, family, and group therapy. She has worked with children, adolescents and adults.


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