Coping with grief

Senior woman contemplating a decision as she sits on the couch.

When someone you love dies, the grief can feel overwhelming. But there are ways you can cope while both honoring your loss and finding hope for the future.

Below are five ways to find comfort, strength and peace during this difficult time of grief and loss.

Host a remembrance service

A memorial or remembrance service can offer opportunities for healing and strength after a loved one dies.

A service can include:

  • Meaningful music
  • Time to name losses people have experienced or are experiencing
  • Opportunities for people to share favorite memories of your loved one
  • Scripture or other readings that focus on hope and peace
  • A symbolic act, such as lighting candles, placing stones, ringing bells or hanging ornaments on a tree

Acknowledge your feelings

Everyone grieves differently. There is no right way on how to grieve or how to deal with grief.

Whether you feel angry, numb, hopeless, lonely, guilty, depressed or something you can’t name, it’s important to acknowledge how you feel throughout the grieving process.

This can help you better understand your loss, while also lessening its power to weigh you down.

Share your feelings by:

  • Talking to a friend who is open to hearing your honest thoughts. Discussing your feelings out loud can help you process.
  • Keeping a journal about your thoughts and experiences.
  • Praying. Lift up your sorrow and frustration as a lament. Prayer honors your feelings and places them with God.
  • Attending a support group with others going through a similar experience.
  • Meeting with a pastor or therapist for guidance.

Take care of yourself

Being emotionally exhausted can take a serious toll on your health.

Remember to:

  • Get plenty of rest. It’s OK to turn off your phone and computer to take a break.
  • Eat healthy meals, even if you don’t have an appetite.
  • Drink lots of water. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and joint and muscle pain.
  • Get out of the house, even if it’s as simple as walking around the mall or having a cup of coffee in the park.

Turn to Scripture

God’s greatest gift to us – through Jesus’ death and resurrection – is the promise of eternal life.

Remind yourself of this promise by reading verses like these as you're dealing with grief:

John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

Matthew 5:3-4: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalm 23:1-6: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”

Revelation 21:3-4: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Find little moments to be grateful for

There will be moments that can fill you with gratitude – the warmth of a fresh cup of tea, the comfort of a friend who calls to say hello or the coziness of a favorite chair and blanket.

Take a second to acknowledge these small comforts and give thanks for their presence in your life.

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Remembering all the good you have in your life can help you move on from the pain of your loss. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting the loss. Rather, it means choosing to focus on what’s left. With time, you can begin to remember what you lost with gratitude, too.

Try this prayer

Loving and gracious God, thank you for the love we experience from the people and things you place in our lives.

We pray that your love brings hope and healing to those who are grieving.

Please fill their hearts with your peace that surpasses all understanding.

Help us remember your joyful promise of everlasting life with you in heaven.

We ask all these things in the blessed name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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