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5 Ways to Help Grieving Seniors

By Grief/Loss, Helping a Friend in Grief

From grandparents to elders in the community, you likely know several people who are 75 or older. Many of the seniors you know have probably found ways to stay active and healthy in their later years, but some, especially grieving seniors, might seem to retreat and disconnect.

As more of their friends and family members die, seniors may feel lonely and overwhelmed by grief. Many seniors can even experience “compounded grief,” which is a result of experiencing multiple losses in a short time. This grief can weigh down the elderly, making each day more of a struggle.

Seniors might feel like the world around them is changing rapidly, which can leave them feeling depressed, isolated, and less motivated to engage in day-to-day activities. If you have a senior in your life who is showing signs of grief, here are 5 ways you can support them:

1. Assist with everyday tasks

woman and daughter helping senior woman bake

Offering to help your senior friend in practical ways can be a huge help. For seniors, navigating everyday tasks can be challenging, especially when they’re dealing with grief or depression. By offering to help with small tasks, you’ll show them that you care about them and want to help. For example, you could drive them to doctor’s appointments, do some yard work, clean the house, cook a meal with them, or bring them groceries or their favorite treats.

As much as you want to help them, make sure you ask permission and respect their wishes. Many seniors want to live independent lives, so they may resist your attempts to help. Make sure they know that you’re trying to make their life easier, not trying to take away their independence when you offer to help.

2. Help them get involved in the community

senior man volunteering and picking up trash

Sometimes seniors feel lonely and forgotten, especially as more of their friends pass away. However, exploring their interests can help them connect with others. Many community centers, libraries, churches, or local clubs host monthly or weekly groups. With book clubs, gardening groups, crafting sessions, and even virtual groups, there are plenty of ways for seniors to dive into a hobby or project. Best of all, they can make new friends along the way.

Additionally, seniors might find it fulfilling to volunteer in the community. Donating their time, money, or items can remind them that they can still make an impact. For example, seniors could volunteer at animal shelters, community gardens, food banks, or school fundraisers. And, if you volunteer alongside them, you’ll build up your relationship while supporting the community together.

3. Spend time with them

woman helping senior man

As seniors begin losing their friends, they can feel like they’re all alone. By spending time with them, you can help them feel less lonely. You could cook together, play board games or cards, or sit and talk. You could even take them out for a day on the town to go shopping or get lunch. As you strengthen your relationship with them, your presence will help reassure them that they still matter to you.

Even more importantly, take time to listen to them. Listening shows that you’re interested in someone and care about their life and experiences. Whether your senior friend wants to talk about the grief they experience or reminisce about times gone by, you can make them feel secure and validate their feelings. Listening to a senior can also benefit you; you might hear a new story or learn from their wisdom and experience.

4. Include them in family events

young girl and senior man playing game with blocks

Whether the senior you want to help is a family member or a friend, including them in family events can help them feel like a part of something. Plus, if you have young children or teenagers, spending time with the elderly can have a positive impact on their lives. There are plenty of ways to involve a senior. You could bring the kids around for a visit, host a game or movie night, or invite them to a family dinner, your child’s sports game, or a school play.

Inviting your elderly friend or family member to join your family during the holidays can have an even greater impact. The holidays can be a heavy reminder of the people a grieving senior has lost, but surrounding them with love and care can help them find joy in the season.

5. Encourage them to find outside support

seniors supporting each other

While some seniors might dislike the idea of counseling, support groups and therapy are beneficial for people who have experienced loss. Outside support can help grieving seniors process their emotions, especially if they’re dealing with compounded grief from multiple losses. Plus, hearing from others about their struggles can remind seniors that they’re not alone.

Some seniors might resist your attempts to help them at first. Be respectful of their boundaries, but also remind them that you care about them and you’re there to support them. Whether you’re seeking to help a parent, a grandparent, or an elderly friend, you can take small steps to include them in your life. While a senior might feel overwhelmed by their grief, knowing that you’re there to help and truly want what’s best for them will bring them comfort.

Young woman sitting on couch, holding her stomach in pain

8 Physical Responses to Grief

By Grief/Loss

While we’re all familiar with the emotional aspects of grief – feeling sad, angry, shocked, relieved – the body can also respond physically to loss. For many people, the physical response often shows up as feeling extremely tired, but there are many other possible responses. Often, the more intense your emotional grief, the more likely you are to respond physically. We’re going to review 8 of those responses today, but first, let’s talk about what’s going on with your body.

young man sitting on couch with one hand on head and the other holding a glass of water

What’s Happening to My Body?

Every system of the body is connected in some way or another. That’s why the grief and stress you feel can begin to take a physical toll on your body. Just like work-related stress can begin to manifest in sleepless nights, headaches, racing thoughts, and heart palpitations, grief-related stress can do the same.

It will take time for your mind and emotions to come to grips with the loss you’ve suffered, and while you process your feelings, your body may also take a hit. The type of physical symptom you experience and its severity will vary from person to person. For some, the physical symptoms will include exhaustion and that’s it. For others, it might include exhaustion along with several other things.

Additionally, if you already have an existing physical condition, grief stress may exacerbate it. For example, if you have high blood pressure on a regular day, it may be harder to regulate while you’re experiencing deep grief. If you notice changes in a pre-existing condition, make sure to speak with your doctor and get the medical care you need.

For now, let’s take a look at 8 physical responses to grief that you may experience.

Woman laying face down on couch, feeling exhausted

1. Tiredness/Exhaustion

Tiredness and exhaustion are perhaps the most common physical responses to grief. Your thoughts and feelings, not to mention any crying, are sapping your energy. You may not feel like going about your normal daily activities and need naps throughout the day. This is completely normal. Make sure you take time to rest because pushing your body too hard can lead to lowered immunity and make you susceptible to getting sick.

2. Lowered Immunity

Speaking of the immune system, grief boosts your production of stress hormones, leading to more inflammation and increased risk of illness. Paired with fatigue, it’s not uncommon for people to catch a cold or get an infection during times of grief. In a 2014 research study, it was found that older adults experiencing grief, specifically the loss of a spouse, were particularly prone to infection. So, make sure you take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it.

Middle-aged man pinching the bridge of his nose as he deals with a headache

3. Brain Fog

Another common physical symptom, brain fog is your mind’s way of protecting you. As your body responds to grief – releasing stress hormones, feeling exhausted – your brain knows that you are becoming overwhelmed. Whether it’s helpful or not, your brain dulls a bit and tries to decrease the sharpness of your feelings. Brain fog typically goes away, usually after you’ve had a little time to process everything. For more information about brain fog, go to “Can Grief Make You Forget Things?

4. Heart Health Concerns

Unfortunately, the release of stress hormones not only weakens the immune system, it also affects the cardiovascular system. One study found that the risk of heart attack increases 21-fold within 24 hours of a loved one’s death (and declines steadily each day after that). This is why there are instances when two family members may die in succession, like when Debbie Reynolds died of a heart-related complication just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms, seek medical assistance right away.

Young woman sitting on couch, holding her stomach in pain

5. Digestive Issues & Weight Changes

When grief hits, it usually disrupts your normal eating habits, which can lead to digestive issues. Whether you’re dealing with constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea, it could be related to changes in your routine, stress, or even anxiety. You may be eating out more, consuming junk food, binge eating, or skipping your regular exercise. In addition to affecting your digestion, these changes can affect your weight as well.

On the other hand, your response to stress may be to undereat rather than to overeat. If this is the case, then you may see weight loss occur. Plus, if you already have a sensitive stomach and carry stress there, you may see an increase in digestive issues when you’re grieving. Just remember, feed your body well and stay away from spicy, acidic, or exotic foods that may stress your system.

6. General Pain or Discomfort

Whether it’s feeling sick to your stomach or dealing with a migraine, your body may respond to grief stress with general pain and discomfort. Ranging from headaches, body aches, and muscle pain, to heaviness in the limbs or a racing heart, the symptoms vary from person to person. You can use over-the-counter pain meds, cold compresses, and other aids to help manage any discomfort, but if you are concerned, seek out a doctor to get a full diagnosis.

Drowsy woman sitting at desk with a cup of coffee, trying to stay awake

7. Sleeping Issues

Sleep is essential when your body is in distress, but it needs to be a healthy balance. For some, insomnia becomes an issue, while for others, oversleeping becomes a concern. Getting too much or too little sleep can sap your energy, decrease your cognitive functioning, and slow down recovery. The first few days, you may sleep more, but after that, try to get yourself back on a normal routine. Your body will eventually bounce back, and your energy will return. For more tips, read “Sleeping Tips for the Grieving.”

8. Dehydration

Crying is a natural response to grief and loss, but it can also lead to dehydration or dry mouth. Don’t try to stifle your crying – let it all out – but do make sure that you are staying hydrated. With everything going on, your body needs extra liquids to maintain a healthy balance. If you can, limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks and focus on getting your electrolytes.

While this list is fairly comprehensive, you may experience something not listed here. Don’t panic. Instead, if you become concerned, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help settle your fears, or if needed, properly diagnose you. We’ve all Googled symptoms before, and it’s rarely helpful. Get with a professional so they can help you feel better faster.

Husband checking on wife as she holds a hand to her chest

How Long Do Physical Symptoms Last?

In short, it depends. For the majority of people, the strength of grief lessens over time, and the sharpness subsides. And certainly, it’s not long before your body stops releasing so many stress hormones. Much of the time, physical symptoms subside within a few days to a few months. However, if the symptoms intensify or don’t resolve within 6-8 months, it’s time to speak with a therapist or a doctor.

If physical symptoms are present for so long, complicated grief becomes a concern. With complicated grief, your feelings intensify over time, the loss takes center stage in your life, and there are feelings of intense sorrow and a tendency to withdraw and isolate. Should it get to this point, it’s best to seek out professional help because it’s gone beyond something you can tackle on your own. To learn more about complicated grief, go to “What is Complicated Grief?

Tips for Coping with the Physical Symptoms of Grief

Before we look at a few suggestions for coping with grief, it’s important to remember that grief feelings aren’t always associated with the death of a person. It could be receiving a serious diagnosis, losing a job, ending a relationship or friendship, experiencing financial difficulty, or living through a natural disaster.

Man walking his dog around the neighborhood, getting outside

Regardless of the source of your grief, here are a few tips to help you take care of your body through the grieving process:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat healthy foods daily
  • Get enough sleep
  • Go outside
  • Take over-the-counter meds, as needed

In the early days, it may be difficult to think about self-care. To make things simple, just take each day as it comes, incorporating these practices as best you can. Over time, as you process your feelings and do the work of grief, you will find a way to move forward and enjoy life again.

Honor Your Loved One this Valentine’s Day

By Grief/Loss, Seasonal

Chocolate-filled heart boxes, baby cupids, and red roses often signal the start of the season of love, which ultimately culminates with Valentine’s Day and brings the chance to celebrate romantic and friendship relationships. However, there are those who may be feeling anything but lovey-dovey as they battle grief that can become more painful during holidays.

It’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal and understandable to feel grief while others seem cheerful. Still, there are several ways to work through grief and honor your loved one on special days, especially Valentine’s Day. You may even find peace, healing, and positivity through these acts of remembrance.

If you or your family is facing grief this Valentine’s Day, try these 6 activities to honor your loved one and bring healing to your heart.

1. Write a Personal Valentine’s Day Card

Woman hand writing on paper in office.

Most can trace their earliest Valentine’s Day memories to exchanging valentines with friends at school. It felt great to go home with little cards (and candy!) saying how much those friends cared. Capture that feeling again and use it to remember your loved one.

Have each member of your family write a personalized and meaningful valentine to your loved one. Sharing, remembering, and getting your thoughts onto paper can help with your grief journey and may even help remove any emotional buildup you may be feeling. It can also help you better understand what your loved one meant to you.

Feel free to share these thoughts with the rest of your family or keep them to yourself – whatever brings you the most healing.

2. Enjoy a Chocolate Treat

Girl with mother preparing cake in kitchen.

Chocolate and Valentine’s Day go together like turkey and Thanksgiving, Santa Clause and Christmas, and fireworks on the Fourth of July. So, use chocolate to remember your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Plus, you can get your whole family involved!

As a family, grab an apron and a cooking utensil to get started on your loved one’s favorite chocolate dessert. Spending time and working together can help bring you all closer, especially if you begin sharing stories of your loved one. If your loved one wasn’t a fan of chocolate, try whipping up their favorite cherry or strawberry dish. Both are common Valentine’s Day foods, so you can still keep the connection between your loved one and the holiday.

Whether you choose chocolate, cherry, strawberry, or something else, be sure to share your dish with others! Watching your neighbors, coworkers, or other family members enjoy this tasty treat can bring joy to you and your family, knowing others are being positively impacted by your loved one’s memory.

3. Deliver Flowers to Their Grave

White grave markers and flowers at a national cemetery.

You may have already participated in this act of remembrance, but what better opportunity to place a beautiful bouquet at your loved one’s final resting place? This is an excellent chance to find great flowers that will honor your loved one. Red roses would best show that you’re thinking of them on Valentine’s Day, but there are other colors and flowers you can choose.

Each rose color has a symbolic meaning: red for passionate love, pink for friendship, and others. If you want to choose a different flower, there are several other options, each with their own meaning. No matter what you decide, taking flowers to your loved one’s grave on Valentine’s Day is a simple way to feel close to them on what can be a hard day.

Each rose color has a symbolic meaning: red for passionate love, pink for friendship, and others. Even the choice of flower has a meaning, with calla lilies signifying marriage, peonies with healing, among other options. No matter what you decide, visiting your loved one with your family and flowers is a simple way to feel close to them on what can be a hard day.

4. Watch a Movie Together

A glass bowl of popcorn and remote control in the background the TV works. Evening cozy watching a movie or TV series at home.

Bringing the family together for a movie is a great way to take a break from the rest of the world. In celebration of your loved one on Valentine’s Day, try watching their favorite romantic movie. Or if your loved one enjoyed laughing, you can find, stream, or rent their favorite romantic comedy. Sometimes laughing is the best way to overcome difficult moments of grief and pain.

Whichever movie was your loved one’s favorite – and it’s perfectly fine to watch a non-romantic movie on Valentine’s Day – you can recall their love for the film. Perhaps they really enjoyed a part of the dialogue or found joy in the soundtrack. Whatever their reason, you’ll feel connected through memory.

5. Take Some Time For Yourself

Girl on mountain peak with green grass looking at beautiful mountain valley in fog at sunset in summer.

Sometimes, the best way to honor your loved one’s life is by taking care of your own. When you’re struggling with grief, self-care is an important part of the healing process, so take time to do something that brings you joy this Valentine’s Day.

If you enjoy being outside, go on a bike ride, hike, or run. If you prefer to be pampered, book an appointment at your favorite spa for a message, manicure, or pedicure. Maybe it’s time to treat yourself with a special gift you’ve been eyeing. Or perhaps you’ve got anger, anxiety, or negative feelings around your grief. Visiting a Rage Room may be just what you need, because sometimes, it does help to just break something. Whatever will bring you happiness and peace, do it.

While this idea is focused on things you can do on your own, feel free to bring your family along. They may benefit from these activities. However, you are well within your right to have some alone time as you grieve. It’s all about listening to yourself and taking care of your needs.

6. Spend Time with Each Other

Happy family with two daughters playing at home. Family sitting on floor and playing together.

No matter what you decide to do with your family on Valentine’s Day, remember that being together is the most important thing. Being involved and supportive of each other can lighten the burden of grief and make holidays a little more enjoyable. Grief is a daily struggle and finding healing past the pain becomes easier when you’re around those you love. Try to avoid isolating yourself while grieving, because your family needs you as much as you need them on the path to healing.

family watching a Christmas movie together with lights

What Christmas Movies Teach Us About Grief

By Christmas, Grief/Loss, Seasonal

The holidays are always a hectic time, but when you’re grieving, they can be even more difficult because you feel your loved one’s absence more strongly. While you may not feel up to participating in your normal holiday traditions, it’s important to find ways to balance your feelings of grief with the joy of the season.

One way to balance joy and grief is by taking time to understand what you’re feeling and why. Learning how grief affects you personally and discovering positive coping mechanisms will help you begin to incorporate your loss into your life story. You may not realize it, but classic Christmas movies can teach us valuable lessons about grief and how it can affect you and those you love. Let’s talk about three of those movies!

bridge covered in snow with soft daylight

It’s a Wonderful Life

In the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, we get a glimpse into the life of George Bailey and see what the world would have looked like if he hadn’t been born. Through the story, we see how many people he influenced and how many lives he changed. As Clarence points out to him, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

The importance of remembrance

If someone you love has died, you are probably very aware of the hole they left behind. Sometimes their absence might seem almost tangible. That’s one of the reasons why grief is so powerful – the person you lost was an integral part of your life, and your brain doesn’t know how to process the loss. That person impacted your life, and for that reason alone, their life is worth remembering.

While George Bailey’s life may have seemed insignificant to him, he had a positive impact on the world, and he eventually realizes his story is important. In the same way, each person’s story is important and worth remembering. One way to honor a loved one’s memory is by participating in different remembrance activities, like attending a remembrance service or creating a memory capsule.

Community and support

The movie also shows how important community and support are during difficult times. You might feel grief more strongly during the holidays, and you may feel lonely when you think of your loved one’s absence. That’s why it’s important to rely on the community around you. George Bailey tries to persevere on his own, carrying all the burdens of life on his own shoulders, and it breaks him down. At the end of the movie, though, George’s family and friends gather around him, supporting him and standing by him through thick and thin.

Just as George’s community supported him through his struggles, your community can help you through your struggles. Grief can be difficult, and you need people around you to help you along the journey. If you don’t feel like you have anyone you can rely on, you can look for a grief support group in your area. No matter what, having support in your grief journey will make the path easier to travel.

carving a christmas turkey with family

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s hard to believe that the animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas first released in 1966! Generations of children have watched the Grinch’s plot to steal Christmas and his later redemption as he learns about the true reason for Christmas. Surprisingly, this movie has a lot to teach about grieving during the holidays.

Reach out to the grieving

While a grieving person’s heart isn’t “two sizes too small,” their heart is likely hurting at the holidays. Sometimes that pain makes someone who is grieving withdraw from those around them or act differently, just like the Grinch. When someone is hurting, they often erect walls between themselves and others.

If you know someone who is grieving, take the time to reach out to them during the holidays. By showing them kindness, you can help their heart heal. If the grieving person resists your efforts, that’s okay. Continue to be kind; they will still appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Open up to your loved ones

If you personally are grieving this holiday season, it’s important to know that spending time with family or friends can help you begin to heal. As we see when the Grinch realizes the true meaning of the holiday and joins the Whos for their Christmas dinner, ritual, tradition, and fellowship can help soothe your aching heart. Participating in traditions and rituals help people grieve together and can help you find meaning in the loss you’ve experienced.

If your relationship with your loved ones has been strained, it may be hard at first to reach out to them. However, asking for help and realizing your limits are important steps in your grief journey. While it may be tempting to stay in your comfort zone, opening yourself up to relationships and sharing with others how you feel is an important part of the grieving journey.

Christmas photos and memories

A Christmas Carol

When you’ve lost a loved one, it can be difficult to feel joyful during the holidays. Maybe, like Ebenezer Scrooge, you’ve found yourself avoiding personal connections with others, withdrawing into yourself and refusing to open up. In a way, the classic Christmas movie A Christmas Carol is a tale of a man who has been hurt in the past and has erected walls to protect himself.

Reflect on Christmas past, present, and future

As both the book and its many movie adaptations show, isolation only leads to loneliness. Scrooge resists the kindness and Christmas spirit of his nephew Fred and his employee Bob Cratchitt. That attitude leads to him eating alone in his house, all his scrimping and saving leaving him alone and miserable in a dark, gloomy room. It’s only when he’s visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley and the different spirits of Christmas that he finally learns what life is all about and opens up to his friends and family.

While Scrooge is terrified by the spirits who remind him of the true nature of life and Christmas, you don’t have to go through that. Instead, take stock of how you feel and reflect on the best ways to help yourself grieve this holiday season. If you’ve lost sight of the joy of the season, these moments of reflection can help you rediscover the meaning and purpose of the holidays.

Christmas Past

Try thinking about your own “Christmas Past.” If you have pleasant memories of Christmases past, examine why they are so memorable to you. What made those times special? Was it the presents, or was it the time spent with family or friends? By contemplating those Christmas memories, you can learn what you value most and remember why you celebrate the holidays. As you rediscover what makes the holidays meaningful, you can find a way to embrace both joy and grief.

Christmas Future

However, not everyone has positive Christmas memories. If your holiday memories are more painful, you might find it helpful to ponder “Christmas Future.” What do you want for your holidays in the future? Isolation will lead to more lonely Christmases, so consider ways you can reach out to family, friends, or support groups in your area.

Christmas Present

Even more importantly, think about now – “Christmas Present.” There are things you can do this Christmas – or any day – to make progress on your grief journey. That could mean creating fellowship with people around you, taking time to pursue something you’re passionate about, or serving others in your community. By opening yourself up and finding ways to engage with your grief, you can continue to heal in a healthy way. While you may not be dancing around town like Scrooge, you can still find joy while you’re grieving.

Perhaps the lessons in these three classic tales resonated with you and gave you a new perspective on your grief this Christmas season. Throughout the holidays, keep in mind that grief takes time. It’s okay if you aren’t feeling 100 percent or if you need to bow out of a few engagements. You’ll need to give yourself grace while you’re grieving. But remember – you need joy to balance out your grief as you learn how to live life again and find your new normal.

mother holding son looking at Christmas lights

Holiday Remembrance Activities for Grieving Parents

By Christmas, Grief/Loss, Seasonal

If you have lost a child, you are probably very aware of the pain the holidays can bring. It might seem impossible to connect with the joy of the season when all you feel is grief. Whether your child died recently or many years ago, the holidays can make your grief feel fresh, and you may feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. But amid the hustle and bustle, taking time to honor and remember your child’s life by participating in remembrance activities can help you through the ups and downs of the season.

While cutting back on holiday stress will be beneficial, finding ways to honor your child’s memory can help you heal. Participating in healing actions can encourage you to express your feelings and acknowledge your emotions as a natural part of grieving. Even more importantly, remembrance activities can help you reconcile with the loss and continue your grief journey.

While you can do whatever makes the most sense for you, here are 6 remembrance ideas to get you started:

Christmas stockings hanging from a mantle

Put up a stocking

Putting up a stocking with your child’s name on it can be a great way to honor their memory during the holidays. In addition to using the stocking as a visual reminder, you can also put different items in the stocking. For example, you and your family members could write letters to your child and place them in the stocking. You could also put toys in the stocking that you can later donate to charity, honoring your child by caring for other children.

mother holding son looking at Christmas lights

Share happy memories

When a child dies, it’s easy to focus on the time you’ve lost with them. While sadness is a vital part of the grieving process, sharing happy memories with your family members can help you treasure the time you had with your child. In return, your family members may also share their memories, giving you the chance to learn new stories about your child. When you share stories and memories, your appreciation for the times you had with your child will grow.

woman making a Christmas wreath

Make holiday decorations

If you like DIY crafts, making holiday decorations can be a way to remember your child each year. You could make an ornament with their name or photo on it or decorate with your child’s favorite color. Maybe you could create a personalized wreath, incorporating your child’s favorite flowers or holiday-related items. Throughout the creative process, you (and anyone else you invite to join you) can engage with your grief in an uplifting and healthy way. After you’ve finished, you’ll have something tangible to bring out every year to honor your child’s memory and make them part of your holiday season.

cozy chair next to table with coffee and Christmas decorations

Create a grief corner

When someone you love has died, you or your family members may need time alone. One way to encourage that is by creating a grief corner in your house. A grief corner is a specific spot where any family member can go to sit by themselves to grieve. This could be something simple, like a chair with a cozy blanket, or you could set up a photo of your lost child with some of their favorite toys. If you have other children, a grief corner could help them learn to recognize their feelings and take time alone when they need to.

toys and socks in a cardboard donation box

Give to a charity in their name

Giving time, money, or items to a charity in your child’s name can be a great way to honor their memory. Maybe your child had a specific cause they were concerned with, and you can support that cause. If your child died from a specific disease, you could also donate to support research about that disease to help families like yours. Or, if you lost your child during pregnancy or shortly after birth, you could create a gift basket to donate to a family in the NICU.

You could also consider things your child was passionate about. What was their favorite sport or activity? You could volunteer to teach other children about that activity. Did they have a favorite animal? You could sponsor a wildlife rescue or spend time volunteering at your local shelter. Whatever you choose, giving to something your child cared about will help you honor them in a meaningful way.

person icing snowflake and gingerbread man cookies

Create a new tradition

After a child dies, old traditions may be painful or feel difficult to enjoy. While participating in old traditions might bring up happy memories of your child, you could also start a new tradition in their honor. This could be anything from trying a new holiday recipe to volunteering at a local soup kitchen. If you have other children, creating a new tradition can be a way for them to remember their sibling. These traditions can become lasting remembrance activities you can engage in for years to come.

woman baking with two children

Remember – Include Your Living Children

As a parent, there will be times when you want to grieve on your own and work through your emotions in a private space. That’s perfectly normal and healthy. However, in your own grief, don’t forget that any other children in the home are also grieving.

Children and teenagers may have trouble processing their grief, so you may need to help them along their journey. Look for ways to discuss what they may be feeling. Invite them to participate in some of these remembrance activities with you. Let them see you cry and share memories, so they know it’s safe to do the same. Throughout the process, you will grow closer as a family and find a way to move forward.

It goes without saying that your holiday will look different after losing a child, but engaging in remembrance activities can be a beautiful way to grieve and mourn.

No matter what, don’t forget to take time to grieve and be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to put on a happy face just because it’s Christmas. You are a human being with complex emotions. You’re going to have good moments and bad moments – that’s okay. When good moments come, embrace them. When grief comes, engage with it. By doing so, you can balance the grief you feel with the joy of the season.

Two large rocks laying in grass with encouraging gratitude sayings written on them

Is Grief Stealing Your Joy & Thankfulness?

By Grief/Loss

Grief seems to have a mind of its own sometimes. At the most unexpected and inconvenient moments, it shows up unannounced. You may be having dinner with family, walking down the grocery store aisle, or simply taking a walk around your neighborhood. Right now, your world may feel colored in blues and grays. Your heart focused on the pain you feel and not on the things you have to be grateful for. That’s okay. Grief can feel overwhelming, and for a time, it may feel like it’s stealing your joy and thankfulness.

Just remember these three things as you work through the complex emotions of grief:

  1. Grief takes a different path with everyone.
  2. Grief is the result of deep love.
  3. Grief won’t steal your joy and thankfulness forever.

Person walking on a wooden walkway in a park, focused on the person's calves and shoes

Grief Takes a Different Path with Everyone

Did you know that grief manifests differently for every person? For example, your grief may include anger and sadness. For someone else, it may bring guilt and a deep sense of regret. In short, don’t feel like something is wrong if grief is stealing your joy because that’s just part of the process for you. Instead, acknowledge your feelings, accept them, and then begin to actively work through your grief. Taking intentional time to practice thankfulness can help, even when you don’t feel like it.

For helpful information on how to practice gratitude, go to Nature & Your Grief Journey or Practicing Remembrance & Gratitude During Times of Grief. It’s not going to happen overnight, but as you sort through your emotions, your view of the world will get lighter and lighter until you can see the silver lining again.

Two people holding hands by hooking pinkies together

Grief is the Result of Caring

Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally recognized grief counselor and educator, has found that grief is not a universal experience. In many ways, grief is closely related to care or even love. If you don’t care about something, then you won’t grieve it. Sometimes, the care is positive – like love for a spouse. Other times, the care is associated with a negative experience – like wishing you’d had a better relationship with a parent or sibling. Both situations will elicit feelings of grief for very different reasons, but both are because, at some level, you cared or loved.

Dr. Wolfelt says:

“Love inevitably leads to grief. You see, love and grief are two sides of the same precious coin. One does not – and cannot – exist without the other. People sometimes say that grief is the price we pay for the joy of having loved. This also means that grief is not a universal experience. Grief is predicated on our capacity to give and receive love. Some people choose not to love, and so, never grieve. If we allow ourselves the grace that comes with love, however, we must allow ourselves the grace that is required to mourn.

Knowing that your grief is tied to your complex, emotional feelings about a particular person doesn’t make the process any easier. But, in a way, it is comforting. What you’re feeling is natural and normal. Even if the relationship was not wholly positive, try not to suppress what you feel. Instead, find healthy ways to engage with your feelings and give yourself permission to grieve.

Two large rocks laying in grass with encouraging gratitude sayings written on them

Grief Won’t Steal Your Joy & Thankfulness Forever

It doesn’t feel like it right now, but grief won’t color your world so vividly forever. Will you always miss the person who has died? Absolutely, no question. Will you “get over” the loss? In many ways, you won’t. There will be moments throughout your life when grief may show up again. Can you find a way to move forward? Yes, there is hope after loss.

While time doesn’t heal wounds, it does give you the space you need to work through your grief. Right after a loss, the pain is at its sharpest. Over time, its sting does lessen and occurs less frequently. Taking time to sit with your pain, to experience it, and to wrestle with it will help you move toward healing and reconciliation. It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary to embracing life and thankfulness again.

Man quietly sitting at an outdoor cafe while writing in a journal

Tips & Tools for Working Through Your Grief

Dr. Wolfelt says, “It is not instinctive to see grief and the need to openly mourn as something to honor…[but] to honor your grief is not self-destructive or harmful, it is courageous and life-giving.” But perhaps you don’t know how to begin. How do you embark on the work of grief? How do you confront your pain, so that you can process it in a healthy way?

To help you on your journey, check out the resources below. They will help you work through your feelings and discover the best want for you to move forward and find joy in life again. Grief won’t steal your joy or your thankfulness forever – unless you let it. Above all, remember that with intentionality and fortitude, you will see the sun again, and it will be beautiful.


Mustering the Courage to Mourn

Exploring Your Feelings of Loss

Grief & the Six Needs of Mourning

10 Helpful Tips When Grieving a Loss

5 Tips for Grieving When You’re Feeling Isolated

Grief & Difficult Relationships

How Creativity Can Help You Deal with Loss

5 Benefits of a Grief Journal

Two female siblings sitting on a bench outdoors spending time together

5 Things to Remember When Grieving a Sibling

By Grief/Loss

Losing a sibling can have a huge impact on your life. Siblings are often constants, with you throughout childhood and into adulthood. While relationships between siblings can be complex and messy at times, that complexity makes grieving a sibling important. However, a parent’s or a spouse’s grief often take a front seat in everyone’s mind, and you may feel left out or forgotten.

Unfortunately, sibling grief is not talked about as much as other forms of grief, but your grief for your sibling is just as important as grieving a parent, a spouse, or a child. There are a lot of things you might have to wrestle with when your sibling dies, but it’s necessary to take time to grieve, both on your own and with others.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind if you are grieving the death of a sibling.

happy family in the woods swinging on tire swing

1. Remember the Good Times

When someone you love dies, especially if the death is unexpected or if the person is close to your age, thoughts about what might have happened in the future can be overwhelming. While it’s important to grieve those lost moments, you don’t want to lose sight of the time you did have with your sibling.

Taking time to reminisce about good memories can help you treasure your sibling’s life and memory. Plus, focusing on the good times will prevent you from solely dwelling on time lost. Another way you can keep your sibling’s memory alive is by visiting a place that was special to you and your sibling or doing one of their favorite things, like watching their favorite movie, playing their favorite board game, or listening to one of their favorite songs. Doing those favorite things can be especially helpful on significant dates, like your sibling’s birthday, the day of their death, or holidays, and they can even become rituals you use to honor your sibling’s memory.

Woman sitting at table and writing letter to lost loved one

2. Come to Terms with Unfinished Business

Barbara Karnes, a registered nurse and end-of-life educator, points out that when we grieve, “it is the unfinished business, the unsaid words that we carry heavily within us.” If you were unprepared for your sibling’s death, you may feel a lot of emotional turmoil during your grief journey. You might struggle with things you wish you had said or done, or perhaps you made plans with your sibling that now won’t come to pass. In these situations, it’s natural to struggle to reconcile yourself to the loss you’ve suffered.

Talking to a grief counselor or therapist is a great way to help you process your emotions and come to terms with your loss. Additionally, writing a letter to your sibling can help. While they won’t see your letter, you can say the things you wish you had said to them, and you can also be honest about your feelings. Acknowledging less obvious aspects of your grief can help you move toward reconciliation and learn how to incorporate the loss into the story of your life.

Two female siblings sitting on a bench outdoors spending time together

3. Initiate Interactions with Your Other Siblings

If you have other brothers and sisters, your one sibling’s death might affect your relationships with them. Your other siblings are likely struggling to understand and process their grief, just like you. While it might be difficult, gathering together can help all of you in your grief journeys, and it might be up to you to initiate these gatherings.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally renowned and respected grief expert, says that each family member mourns the loss of a sibling in , saying, “While you might have anticipated some of your sibling’s responses (for example, your emotional sister has probably been emotional), other responses may have surprised you. Try not to let these differences alarm you or hurt your feelings.”

Some siblings might feel angry, sad, guilty, or even numb. By talking to your siblings, supporting them, and spending time with them, you show that you acknowledge their grief and struggles. Opening communication with your siblings can also create a supportive environment within the family. But remember, bringing your family together isn’t all on you—there’s only so much one person can do. Don’t feel guilty if your siblings resist attempts to help them or mediate arguments.

However, spending time with your siblings isn’t just about helping them heal—it can help you heal, too, by reminding you that you aren’t alone in your grief. After all, your siblings know your family history, so they can remind you of moments with your sibling you’ve forgotten and provide unique understanding you might not find anywhere else. By taking the first step to open up to your siblings, you can create a supportive space for everyone’s grief journey.

Older man outside gardening for self-care

4. Take Time for Yourself

When your sibling dies, it might be easy to distract yourself by helping your parents, living siblings, or other family members, but it’s essential to take time for yourself. It can be tempting to bottle up your feelings, and at first, you might feel guilty about needing to spend some time apart from your friends and family. However, taking time for yourself is an essential part of the grief journey. Time spent by yourself gives you space to process and acknowledge the emotions you are feeling. Depending on the situation, you might feel a variety of emotions: anger, sadness, relief, guilt, shock, fear, or any number of other emotions. There’s no right way to feel after a loss, and acknowledging your feelings is a necessary part of grief.

There are many ways you can take time for yourself. You can focus on “me time” and simply relax by taking a nap, reading a book, or going for a walk. If you’re feeling more active, you could spend time outdoors or do something creative, like journaling, painting, or gardening. Some people like to make scrapbooks or memory boxes honoring loved ones who have died. No matter what you choose to do, take time to care for yourself.

Diverse people in a grief support group

5. Get Support

When someone you love dies, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost as you try to navigate your grief and the grief of those around you. Joining a support group or visiting a therapist can help you process your feelings and show you that you are not alone. Getting support is especially important if you are a twin whose brother or sister has died or if you find yourself without support from your family. While seeking outside support might seem scary at first, it can also be extremely beneficial to you in the long run.

Every family is different, and grieving any loved one is never easy. While the journey ahead will be difficult, as you work through your emotions and grieve with your family, you will find a way to move forward and treasure your sibling’s life and legacy.

Man with beard lying in bed reading a book

10 Books to Help You Through Suicide Loss

By Grief/Loss, Loss from Suicide

Losing a loved one to suicide is one of the most heart-wrenching and confusing events you may face in your life. Why did this happen? Could I have done something to help? Why didn’t I see it? So many questions and “what ifs” may be racing through your mind. It’s going to take time and intentionality to work through the big emotions you’re feeling and to sort through all the questions.

10 Books to Help You through Suicide Loss

Sometimes, it’s helpful to learn from the experiences of others. That’s why you might consider reading a book or two to help you on your journey to healing. To get you started, here are 10 books you should consider reading or sharing with friends or family who are processing suicide loss. The books on this list come with high ratings from their readers. Browse through and click the link to see which ones feel right for your unique grief journey.

woman sitting at table, reading a book

Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide (Christopher Lukas and Dr. Henry M. Seiden)

This book is a powerful mix of personal testimony and professional expertise. Silent Grief brings together the knowledge and experience of two men – one a suicide survivor and the other a psychologist. On the one hand, Christopher Lukas poignantly shares his personal experience with suicide loss. As a perfect complement, Dr. Henry Seiden offers guidance relating to grief reactions, overcoming shame, and practical strategies for coping.

Dying to Be Free: A Healing Guide for Families after a Suicide (Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch)

Too often people feel misunderstood or silenced after losing a loved one to suicide. This is because society places an undue amount of stigma on suicide-related deaths. In their book, Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch break down complicated personal and societal reactions to suicide loss. Having famously lost her cousin, Kurt Cobain, and two other family members to suicide, Beverly shares her own personal experience with suicide grief. She provides insight into the fear, shock, and guilt family members experience as well as offering compassionate guidance to those left behind to mourn.

Older man sitting on comfortable couch, reading a book

No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One (Carla Fine)

Following the suicide death of her husband, Carla Fine didn’t expect to face opposition to openly sharing her grief and pain, but that’s what happened. In her book, she explores her own feelings of shame, anger, and loneliness as she works to defeat societal stigmas and bring the realities of suicide survival to the light. Paired with the testimonies of other suicide loss survivors as well as counselors and mental health professionals, Carla offers thoughtful advice on how to make sense of the senseless and realize that you are not alone in your grief.

But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping Families After a Suicide (Barbara Rubel)

Told through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy whose father died by suicide, But I Didn’t Say Goodbye chronicles the journey of one family through grief. Over a period of five years, you will see each family member grapple with their individual feelings and learn how to develop open and honest communication about what has happened to the entire family. Equipped with checklists, references, and sound advice, this book has proved to be a helpful companion to many families healing after suicide loss.

Older woman wrapped in blanket sitting on couch and reading a book

Understanding Your Suicide Grief (Dr. Alan Wolfelt)

As a grief counselor and death educator, Dr. Alan Wolfelt has walked alongside hundreds of people as they come to terms with the losses they’ve experienced. In this compassionate guide, he draws on his own experience with suicide loss, offering 10 touchstones to assist you through the complicated and painful journey ahead. You will learn how to open yourself to the loss, embrace the pain you’ve suffered, and work toward reconciliation, rather than resolution. With his kind words, Wolfelt takes you on a journey toward hope and healing.

After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief (Dr. Jack Jordan and Dr. Bob Baugher)

Concise and to the point, this book has been described by one reader as their “Survival Bible for coping with our tremendous grief, and it has valuable suggestions for friends and family.” Designed to help survivors through the first year following a suicide, the pages are organized around the first few days, weeks, and months. With care and compassion, the authors provide solid suggestions and resources for survivors who are walking through the beginning stages of grief and figuring out how to do life after suicide loss.

Man with beard lying in bed reading a book

Healing the Hurt Spirit: Daily Affirmations for People Who Have Lost a Loved One to Suicide (Catherine Greenleaf)

If you’d prefer a short, daily focus book option, check out Healing the Hurt Spirit. With 365 affirmations, you can read an inspirational message that will help you through the day. Each entry discusses relevant topics and provides insight into the author’s personal journey through suicide loss. Throughout its pages, you will find hope that you can find a way to move forward.

My Son, My Son: A Guide to Healing after Death, Loss, or Suicide (Iris Bolton and Curtis Mitchell)

Despite a career as a successful psychologist, Iris Bolton missed the signs that her own son was dealing with suicidal thoughts. In this book, she shares her own personal story of loss and unpacks two major challenges survivors face. Why did this happen? Could I have stopped it? First written in 1983, the book has been revised and is still filled with relevant truths and resources that matter today. Bolton’s words may provide you with the insight and understanding you deeply need during this time of loss.

Young woman in black and white sweater sitting down and reading a book

Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One (Dr. Ann Smolin and Dr. John Guinan)

The first steps toward healing can feel insurmountable., but there’s hope. With this compassionate guide, you can begin to make sense of what’s happened and process what you may feel. Filled with case studies, valuable information, and insightful advice, Smolin and Guinan gently guide you through the painful aftermath of suicide. This guide includes special chapters for the death of parents, children, siblings, and spouse as well as a directory for support groups nationwide (US only).

Why Suicide? Questions and Answers about Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Coping with the Suicide of  Someone You Know  (Eric Marcus)

In this landmark book, journalist Eric Marcus dives into the painful complexities of coming to grips with suicide. Having lost two family members to suicide, he is familiar with the daunting questions that fill your mind afterward. With kindness and grace, he offers objective, thoughtful answers to common questions.  These include how to tell others, how to help prevent suicide, and what to do with suicidal feelings when they arise.

There are countless books out there to help you through the grief journey ahead. This is a sampling of what’s available to you, and hopefully, you will find a few here that assist you. It’s important to remember that no book can offer a guarantee – the process of healing is up to you. If you do the work of grief – you face it, name it, work through it – you can find your way to healing and reconciliation. You may never have all the answers, but you can have peace within yourself. Best wishes for the journey ahead.

Mom holding and comforting her school-age child

Tips for Talking to and Supporting Children after a School Shooting or Other Traumatic Loss: Dos and Don’ts

By Grief/Loss

Sadly, school shootings such as the one in Uvalde, Texas, are not a rarity here in the United States. Neither are mass shootings in other public places, such as entertainment venues and grocery stores. When they occur, news about them blankets news media and social media, and often features in conversations among friends and family. Children hear about these tragedies. What’s more, children in many school districts are trained in gun-violence prevention measures such as Know the Signs and active-shooter drills. They are, in essence, taught to anticipate violence and loss.

No matter how much we would like to protect them from these horrific realities, our children are all too aware that they happen. With awareness come uncertainty and grief. It’s normal for kids to be afraid that a shooting will happen in their school. It’s normal for kids to be sad, angry, and curious about these massacres. We help children by affirming their normal thoughts and feelings and creating an atmosphere of open communication and love.

Mom holding and comforting her school-age child

We cannot untraumatize traumatized children, but we can do our best to help them feel heard and safe. As a grief counselor and educator for more than forty years, I humbly offer the following suggestions.

Do communicate at a given child’s level of interest and understanding.

Each child is unique and will have unique thoughts, feelings, and questions about traumatic events. Younger children will have different understanding and questions than older children. Age is just one factor, however. Different kids process fears and concerns differently. Follow each unique child’s lead. Don’t overexplain; instead, allow their questions and concerns to guide you. Communicate with them in words they will understand and in ways they will feel cared for.

Do know the difference between grief and mourning.

Grief is everything we think and feel inside about a loss. Mourning is expressing those thoughts and feelings outside ourselves. Mourning isn’t just healthy—it’s necessary. Children need to be given safe places and opportunities for mourning in the presence of compassionate, understanding, nonjudgmental adults.

Do be aware that children mourn in doses.

Grieving children don’t express all their grief in one conversation or day. Instead, they continue to feel their feelings and need to express them in doses over the course of months and years. What’s more, their grieving needs will change as they grow older and develop new understanding of any losses they may have experienced when they were younger. Grief lasts a lifetime, and it is our responsibility to continue to care for grieving children as they grow into grieving adults.

Dad hugging young son at home

Don’t assume that children are unaware of or unfazed by school shootings that may have taken place far away from where they live.

We are all grieving the violent deaths of children in Uvalde, Texas, and other communities affected by traumatic loss. Like us, children think and feel things inside themselves about such tragedies. In other words, they grieve. Our job as caring adults is to be on the watch for their normal and necessary grief, to listen to and love them, and to give them ongoing opportunities to mourn.

Do be aware that if children incorporate loss violence into their play, this is usually normal.

Imaginative play is how young children process new information and work through difficult thoughts and feelings. Always wrap them in understanding and empathy before placing any restrictions on their play.

Don’t assume that children are resilient and thus “fine.”

Children are indeed resilient, but their traumatic experiences also become part of them. As I said, there is no such thing as untraumatizing traumatized children. They learn early that life is not only challenging—it can be violent, random, incomprehensible, and deeply unfair. The only way to help them continue to love life even as they incorporate these tragic realities is to make them feel extra-safe, extra-seen, and extra-loved.

Mother holding school-age daughter close in a comforting way

Do model your own grief and mourning.

Grieving kids need to know that grief and mourning are normal, healing responses to loss. If you’re sad or angry, shocked or anxious, it’s healthy to let the children in your life know that you’re feeling these things. It’s good to cry if you feel like crying.

Do help children feel safe.

Anything you can do in the aftermath of a school shooting or other traumatic loss to help children feel safe is a good thing. If they have questions about the security at their own schools, look into the protocols and answer their questions. Work to improve safety as much as you can. Ensure they feel safe in their own homes. Create and stick to routines and boundaries. Be gentle and kind but also firm when it comes to rules that are for their own good. Listen well, and speak less than you listen. For children who are particularly anxious, seek out professional counseling.

Young dad holding his daughter in a comforting way

Do help children feel seen.

We often call grieving children the “forgotten mourners” because their grief can be less apparent and they may seem to need less direct grief support. You can help them feel seen by consistently observing their play and behaviors and giving them extra attention. If you are understandably caught up in your own grief, ask other adults to help you pay close attention to the children in your care.

Do help children feel loved.

Children deserve our unconditional love. To help children feel loved, we give them attention and good care. We ensure their basic needs are well met (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), and we make it clear that we care about their wellbeing. We also make time to have fun with them. Children are our most precious gift. Together we must treat them as such.

About the Author

Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator, and grief counselor.  He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is a past recipient of the Association for Death Education and Counseling’s Death Educator Award. Among his many bestselling publications are the books Healing a Child’s Grieving Heart and Healing Your Traumatized Heart. Dr. Wolfelt advocates that we “companion” children in grief as opposed to “treating” them. Visit to learn more about supporting grieving children, teens, adults, and families. If you have additional questions or concerns, you can email the author at [email protected]

Coping with Your Grief Over the Uvalde Murders

By Current Events, Grief/Loss

Uvalde, Texas, is grieving. America is grieving. A single man has committed a crime of unimaginable violence, taking the lives of at least 21 people—19 of them children—and now an entire country is bereft.

Whether you live near Uvalde or far away, whether you personally know someone connected to the tragedy or not, you are probably grieving. Because you have empathy, you are grieving on behalf of the families whose loved ones were so senselessly taken from them. Grief is normal and necessary. In addition, you may be experiencing a loss of a sense of safety for your own family and others you care about. You may have lost a sense of goodness in the world. You might also have lost trust or pride in your country or community. You are also probably wrestling with why this happened, as well, and your search for answers is part of your grief.

Sad woman with head in hands

As the Director of the Center for Loss & Life Transition, please know that your grief is normal and necessary. In these early days, you are likely to feel numbed by shock and disbelief. This is nature’s way of protecting us from acknowledging the full reality of a terrible loss all at once. You may be struggling with anger, helplessness, sadness, despair, and other emotions as well, especially now, at a time when other worldwide events are already stressing everyone’s mental health.

Whatever you are feeling, it’s OK. Your feelings are not right or wrong—they simply are. Accepting your emotions and finding constructive ways to express them, bit by bit, day by day, are how you can best work through your grief.

If you find yourself thinking and talking about the violent act, this is also normal. Trying to understand what happened is what our minds often do. If this is true for you, the ongoing process of learning more about what happened and discussing the shooting with others will likely help you begin to survive this difficult time.

If, however, as a result of the murders you find yourself battling with nightmares or insomnia, paralyzing fears about the deaths, panic attacks, or other severe symptoms, you may be struggling with traumatic grief, which is a close cousin to post-traumatic stress, or PTS. If this is true for you, please talk to your family doctor or therapist about the intensity of your response. They can help you manage your most disabling symptoms and find ways to continue functioning day to day.

Over time and with the support of others, your grief can be integrated into your life. The key to getting through this terrible time is expressing your inner grief outside of yourself. This is called mourning. Ways to mourn include talking about your thoughts and feelings with others, crying, journaling, writing condolence cards to the families directly affected, participating in an online support group, praying or other spiritual practices, making art, helping others in your community, and anything that helps you feel like you are sharing or demonstrating your thoughts and feelings in some way. Active, ongoing mourning gives your grief movement and is the process through which you will eventually reconcile your grief.

I especially encourage you to reach out to others. We as human beings need personal contact. When we are grieving, we also need emotional support. So I urge you to use this difficult time to build relationships. Talk openly and honestly with the people in your home and be as empathetic as you can. Stay connected as much as possible and be open and honest in those communications about whatever it is you are feeling or struggling with at the moment. Your candor will encourage others to be honest as well, creating the opportunity for mutual support and kindness. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

About the Author

Dr. Alan Wolfelt is an author and educator on the topic of healing in grief. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition and is a past recipient of the Association of Death Education and Counseling’s Death Educator Award. Dr. Wolfelt has written many compassionate, bestselling books in an effort to help people mourn well so they can continue to love and live well, including Healing Your Traumatized Heart. Visit to learn more about the natural and necessary process of grief and mourning.

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