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How to cope with grief

Good grief support is essential for our health and healing. When we give ourselves time and space for grief, it can begin to move and shift and change. This could look like seeing a counsellor one-on-one, going to a support group run by a local hospice, or talking regularly with someone who gets it.

While good support is key, we also have to live our everyday lives, and grief doesn't always stay quietly in the background. This is when coping with grief can be the toughest. Between counselling sessions or group meetings, or walks on the beach with a friend or a pet, we have three suggestions to help manage grief day to day that work for both adults and kids:

Holding Steady

To cope with grief, we might go into overdrive, staying busy, too busy to feel it, moving so fast that grief can't catch up with us. Or we might stand still. So still that it's hard to get up again, and we start to feel unable to do the things we are used to doing. When we don't know whether we are coming or going, a good tactic is to become grounded and steady in the present moment. Making it through the next moment is sometimes the only thing that is needed.

To do this, we can become aware of our five senses. One popular method is the 5-4-3-2-1 method, where you anchor yourself in the here and now by noticing 5 things that you see, 4 things that you hear, 3 things that you feel, 2 things that you smell, and 1 thing that you taste. But you can just as easily choose one sense and feel into it deeply. Hold onto a pocket stone and notice its temperature, it's texture, its weight and size. Hold a warm cup of tea in your hands and notice the feel of the steam on your face. Notice the quality of the light in the room, the texture of a plant, carpet or pet. Find a colour that you like in the room that you're in and let your eyes rest there. Feel the sun on your face, feel your feet on the floor. Kids might benefit from soothing sensory experiences like a warm bath, a heavy blanket, a pocket stone, and time in nature.

Holding Space

Holding space for grief means inviting it in and letting it breathe. For adults, this might mean calling a friend to talk about how much you miss your person, or making the secret family recipe that always makes you think of them. It is doing something with your loved one in mind that lets you feel your grief in a gentle way. It is being present with grief without needing to change it.

Kids often don't want to sit down and talk about grief, and so we find that best ways to hold space for kids in grief is to do something together using our hands. Planting, cooking, painting, collaging, building, writing with our loved ones in mind, all help us to sit with grief. When kids and teens feel held and safe, they might talk about their loved one, ask questions, and share memories, which all bring their person close and gives their grief room to breathe. Even if they prefer not to talk, making a scrapbook of photos or a memory box, or planting a flower in memory of a person, together with the presence of a loving adult, create the holding space needed by grief.

Holding the Sacred

We don't always make room for the sacred in our every day lives. But the truth is that your connection with your loved one was and still is sacred, whether or not it was a "great" relationship in real life. Rituals help us to acknowledge our grief, to let go of hard things, to wish for something different, and they allow us to have reverence for the past, present and future.

Some examples of simple everyday rituals are: making a candle in honour of a person and lighting it each day. Or baking a birthday cake on their birthday and enjoying it with your family or friends. It could be visiting a favourite spot of theirs and thinking of them. Picking up a rock and dropping it in the creek, while thinking of what you would like to let go of; choosing a new rock to take with you while setting an intention. A ritual doesn't have to be intricate, in fact they are much better if they are simple and accessible. A moment of reverence for loss and for life.

Rituals around life and death that are traditional to your family or culture are important ways of acknowledging the sacred and are valuable for children to be part of. These moment are valuable ways to teach children about collective grief and healing.

We hope that these suggestions are useful for you or your loved ones when navigating grief and loss. Each of these three elements is incorporated into our comfort gifts, and each gift has been designed with healing in mind. Please contact us if you need personalized assistance to put together a comfort gift, as it is something that we love and are honoured to do.

With Love,

Nicki and Amanda


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