Grief – what you can do
- Get support in any way that is appropriate for you.
- Try to look after yourself and your needs.
- Take one day at a time.
- Be aware that everyone involved will react differently.
- Surround yourself with family and friends, and those who will support you.
- Share your feelings with others. Find a trusted person to talk to about your loss. Ask them for help and anything you need – friends want to do something to help.
- Be active and exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit alcohol. The foods we eat can help us cope with stress.
- Avoid medications such as sedatives – they can be useful for providing needed relief for short periods but should not be taken to avoid your grief entirely.
- Resist being rushed into big decisions, such as moving or changing jobs.
- Avoid activities you don't feel ready for if well-meaning friends try to help you 'feel better'.
- Set goals for yourself. Consider volunteer work for a charity or develop new interests.
- Maintain hope. You may find hope and comfort from those who have experienced a similar loss. Knowing some things that helped them, and realising that they have recovered and time does help, may give you hope that sometime in the future your grief may be less raw and painful.
- Don't underestimate the healing effects of small pleasures as you are ready. Sunsets, a walk in the bush, a favourite food – these are all small steps toward regaining your pleasure in life itself.
- Give yourself permission to 'slip back'. Sometimes, after a period of feeling good, people find themselves back in the old feelings of extreme sadness, despair or anger. This is often the nature of grief, up and down, and it may happen over and over for a time. It happens because, as humans, we cannot take in all of the pain and the meaning of death at once. So we let it in a little at a time.
- There is no time limit for grieving.
- Seek professional support at any time.
- Be aware that friends and family may not know how to comfort you. Knowing what you expect from others may help you to communicate what you need more clearly.2
2 Adapted from: Journeys: Palliative care for children and teenagers, version 2, Eds. Fleming, S.
Coombs, S. and Phillips, M., Palliative Care Australia, 2010.