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
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
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
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
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
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