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After losing a loved one, it’s natural to want to avoid things that trigger your grief, like your loved one’s clothes, their favorite song, or a place that was special to the two of you. However, studies have shown that avoiding your grief can keep you from healing and lead to more serious issues, like complicated grief.

While allowing yourself time to heal is certainly important, it’s also necessary to let yourself feel those more negative emotions so you can continue on your grief journey. Instead of bottling up your feelings, find healthy ways to let yourself feel your grief.

While everyone expresses their grief differently, here are 8 ideas to get you started.

1. Write

woman in a green skirt with brown shoes writing in a notebook while sitting outside on grass

Writing, whether through journaling, blogging, or writing poetry, can be a great way to express your grief. Many people struggle to understand their emotions until they begin to write. A grief journal can be a great way to understand your grief better and see your progress along your grief journey. You could also write a letter to your loved one to say things you wish you could have told them.

However you choose to write, don’t focus too much on grammar or finding the perfect words. You don’t have to show anyone what you write, so immerse yourself the process and focus on being honest with yourself.

2. Talk

Two women having a conversation while drinking coffee at home

For many people, talking about emotions can be intimidating. Sometimes, it can be hard to put emotions into words, or you may be afraid that someone will judge you. That’s okay! You can start small. Try talking out loud about your grief when you’re on your own or visit your loved one’s grave and talk to them. If you have a friend or family member you trust who is willing to listen and support you, you can meet up with them for coffee or lunch to talk together.

If you don’t have a friend or family member you feel comfortable opening up to, you can also visit a grief therapist or join a grief support group. Getting help from a professional can be an excellent way to better understand and express your grief.

3. Cry

woman crying with her hands clasped by her face

After losing a loved one, many people feel pressured to stay strong. Maybe you feel like you need to support other family members who are grieving or act like nothing’s wrong at work, school, or social events. But crying isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, crying can help balance your emotions and improve your mental well-being. Allowing yourself to cry can help you acknowledge your grief and begin to heal.

If you feel unable to cry, that’s okay, too! It may take time before you can express your grief in this way. You could also try watching a sad movie or listening to a song with lyrics that make you think of your loved one. But don’t pressure yourself too much.

4. Music

man listening to music with his eyes closed

Many people use music as a creative outlet, and it can also be a great tool for expressing your grief. Whether you write songs, play an instrument, or simply enjoy listening to music, you can find meaningful ways to express your emotions. You could compose a song about your loved one or play one of their favorite tunes on the piano. You can put together a playlist with their favorite artist or genre. If you enjoy dancing, you could create a dance to one of your loved one’s favorite songs. Music can help you express what words can’t, so however you choose to enjoy music, let the lyrics and rhythm move you.

5. Art & Creativity

older woman in a plaid shirt painting a canvas on a tabletop easel

Just as music can say what words can’t, art can help us express ourselves in unique ways. Art and creativity create opportunities for expression you may not find anywhere else. Maybe you have always loved painting or woodwork, or perhaps you want to try something new, like knitting or scrapbooking. You could choose to create something in honor of your loved one or use the creative process itself to help you release your emotions. Even something as simple as coloring can make room for your grief and help you feel your emotions while your hands are busy. Whether you keep your art private or share it with others, the act of creation can help you process, understand, and express your grief.

6. Exercise

older man hitting a punching bag at a gym as a workout

Grief can take its toll on your physical and mental health. While the last thing you may feel like doing is getting up and moving, exercise can help you in your grief journey – and help you express your grief. Whether you try yoga or stretching, participate in sports, or work on a more intense exercise regimen, incorporating movement into your day can help you relax, which may provide you with the release you need to let out your tears, frustration, or anger.

7. Get Outside

man wearing a white shirt breathing in deeply outside

When you’re grieving, sometimes you need a break from the pressures of everyday life. Spending time in nature is a great way to do that. Getting outside in the sun, seeing wildlife and plants, and breathing fresh air can give you the space to let yourself feel your grief. You could do something simple, like take a short walk, spend time in the garden, sit outside, or read a book on your patio. Or you could go for a hike or camping trip to immerse yourself in the outdoors. Whatever way you choose, take time to enjoy nature and allow yourself to let your guard down.

8. Participate in Remembrance Activities

person cupping their hands around a burning candle

Was there anything your loved one enjoyed doing? A hobby, a sport, or volunteer work? One way to express your grief is to do something that helps you feel close to your loved one. If your loved one enjoyed scrapbooking, you could make a page with photos of them. If they liked to play soccer, you can get friends to play a game at the local park.

Or you could do a more solemn activity in their memory, like lighting a candle or visiting their grave. By taking time to remember your loved one, you can express your grief and honor their amazing life.

As you continue along your grief journey, be patient with yourself. Everyone grieves differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. While expressing your grief and letting yourself feel it is important, give yourself time. You may not feel ready yet, but eventually, you’ll better understand your grief and grow more comfortable expressing it.

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