Helping Yourself Through Grief and Loss

Do what you can to stay healthy. Reaching out for support will help a great deal. You may find yourself asking: “Why?” It’s normal to seek meaning by asking questions, but there’s not always an answer for loss. With time, your loss may still be part of your life, but not the only thing in it.

Couple, man and woman, woman resting her head on man's shoulder with eyes closed in a supportive embrace.

Take care of yourself

Taking good care of yourself helps your body heal from the physical and emotional symptoms of grief. Pay extra attention to healthy exercise, sleep, and eating routines. What else do you need to feel better? Having family around can help you feel loved. Or you might need a walk or movie with friends to take your mind off things for a little while.

Accept support

Joining the world again is part of healing. These tips may help:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends, even if it’s hard to talk.

  • Tell people how they can help. It can be as simple as bringing you a meal or walking your dog.

  • Stick to a daily routine that keeps you connected to friends and family.

  • Try to avoid making major decisions.

  • Attend a support group of people who have been through the same type of loss.

When to get help

There's no normal length of time to grieve. But if you feel stuck and unable to move on, or if it has been 6 months or more since your loss and you still have signs of grief listed below, it may be time for professional help. Seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness. It means that you are taking responsibility for your recovery. Be alert to depression and call your healthcare provider if you:

  • Can’t go to work or take care of the kids.

  • Can’t eat or sleep normally.

  • Feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless.

  • Lose interest in hobbies, friends, and activities that used to give pleasure.

  • Gain or lose a lot of weight.

  • Feel your grief is getting worse, or not getting any better.

  • Have repeated thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself. Call 911 or a crisis hotline (you can find one online) if you have these thoughts.

At some point, you’ll begin thinking about the future. You’ll want to look ahead and make plans. To help yourself reach this point, try to do one thing each day to join in life. Keep at it, even if it feels strange at first. Your life can never be exactly the same. But one day you’ll find you’re living life fully again.