64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who Are Grieving

Coping with Grief / Coping with Grief : Eleanor Haley


Self-care is a lot like flossing, you know you should do it regularly, but most people don’t. Why?  Probably because most people are overstressed, overworked, and overtired. Also, if you’re reading this blog right now, there’s a good chance that on top of all that, you’re grieving. 

For all these reasons, it’s important to look at self-care in as realistic a way as possible, choosing ideas and activities that people can actually do, not just aspire to. We always recommend you choose the coping and self-care activities that are right for you, but to get you started, we’ve put together 63 self-care ideas for people who are grieving.


 64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who are Grieving:

1. Take a walk:  Hike in the woods, on a local nature trail, or around the neighborhood.  The exercise will do you good and you never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.

2. Take a nap:  The National Sleep Foundation says a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

3. Smile:Did you know the simple act of smiling (even without a reason) can make you feel happy?

4. Read:  A 2009 study showed that it took participants only six minutes to relax once they started reading.  For the purposes of stress relief, we suggest you forgo info heavy texts for a good novel, spiritual/religious reads, or self-help books.

5. Play: What is play?  It’s any purposeless kind of fun. 

6. Get a few minutes of fresh air and sunlight.

7. Have a good cry: Supposedly stress-related tears help the body rid itself of nasty cortisol (aka the stress hormone) raising chemicals.

8. Engage in a game or activity that requires focus:  I just completed a 1000 piece puzzle so I must warn you, while it was incredibly soothing I also forgot to do laundry, feed my children, or change out of my sweatpants until it’s completion four days later.  For something a little less time consuming, try your paper’s daily Crossword or Sudoku.

9. Practice patience.  

10. Practice forgiveness. 

11. Practice kindness.

12. Practice gratitude.

13. Plan a night out with friends: Go to your favorite restaurant, see a show, or attend a sporting event.

14. Establish a better work/life balance:  Here’s how to stop work overload with a few simple boundaries.

15. Breathe

16. Listen to your favorite music playlist:  Music can have a positive impact on both our physical and emotional health, from reducing the perceived intensity of pain to relieving symptoms of depression.  

17. Go somewhere that makes you feel at ease: My spot is Barnes and Noble.

18. Spring clean: Here’s advice on selling and donating items in your ‘give away’ pile.

19. Take stock of your support system: Who can you count on and how?

20. Look through old photographs.

21. Have one-on-one time with your children (that means one child at a time).

22. Make out: Apparently kissing boosts immunity, burns calories, and relaxes you.  Yeah!

23.  Okay so ‘no’ to making out. Why don’t you try cuddling instead?:  Cuddling reduces stress and makes you feel happy!  Equal opportunity cuddlers can snuggle up with a mate, child, or pup.

24. See a movie: My favorite grief relief activity.

25.  Watch funny YouTube videos.  Yes…seriously.

26.  Watch other videos on YouTube.

27. Have some self-compassion 

28.  Plan a weekend getaway.

29.  Treat yourself to a day of relaxation: Not a fan of the spa?  Relax at home.  

30. Try a new hobby, like:

31.  Make your annual doctors and dentist appointments (I know groan, but good health is a part of good self-care).

32. Cross something off of your bucket list: Don’t have a bucket list?  Create one here.

33.  Get into an exercise routine: I don’t need to espouse the benefits of exercise because you already know.

34. Cut back on your alcohol intake.

35. Be creative.

36. Join a support group: Among other benefits, support groups can help you gain a sense of empowerment and feel less lonely.

37. Seek online grief support (the fact that you’re here means you’re on the right track).

38. Make a plan to start eating healthy.

39. Then go eat a piece of chocolate and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

40. Get on the floor and play with your kids (or pet).

41. Find a quiet place where you can be alone with your thoughts.

42. Better yet, try a warm shower or a bubble bath.

43. See a counselor or therapist.

44. Visit your place of worship and spend time in prayer.

45. Join a club or group of any kind: There’s benefit in joining any group that gathers around something you like – camera clubs, choirs, widower happy hours, etc.

46. Volunteer your time.

47. Don’t let things hang over your head: Either do them or choose not to let not getting them done stress you out. For the proactive: Check things off your list with this ‘Get Off Your Ass Manifesto’.

48.  Sing at the top of your lungs: Research has shown that singing is like a tranquilizer that both soothes your nerves and makes you feel happy.

49.  Or I guess you could just dance with reckless abandon.

50.  Open your windows.

51.  Allow yourself a day of unapologetic sulking.

52.  Retail Therapy – Is it real??  Pssh…who cares? Time Magazine says it is, though.

53.  Sttttrrreeeetttccchhhh:  Here’s a guide to 10 basic stretches.

54.  Comfort someone in their time of need.

55.  Spend time in a place where you feel close to your deceased loved one(s).

56.  Play a sport: Play by yourself or join an adult sports league.

57.  Take a yoga class.

58.  Find ways to make your workday healthier.

59.  Phone an old friend.

60.  Throw your plans out the window and spend a few days schedule-free.

61.  Practice deep breathing.

62.  Go for a drive.

63.  Limit the time you spend on the Internet and Social Media.

64.  Subscribe to ‘What’s Your Grief’ and then turn off your computer.

Yeah, you heard me.  

Let’s be grief friends.

We post a new article to What’s Your Grief about once a week. Subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

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33 Comments on "64 Self-Care Ideas for People Who Are Grieving"

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  1. Tina Brooks  April 29, 2020 at 7:11 pm Reply

    I lost my husband two months ago and none of these things remotely interest me. I am sad all the time and just sob. I can’t believe he will not be coming home from work every day.

  2. solarmovies  December 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm Reply

    “I am actually glad to glance at this website posts which carries lots of helpful data,
    thanks for providing these data.

  3. solarmovies  December 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm Reply

    “I am actually glad to glance at this website posts which carries lots of helpful data,
    thanks for providing these data.

  4. solarmovies  December 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm Reply

    “I am actually glad to glance at this website posts which carries lots of helpful data,
    thanks for providing these data.

  5. Ryan  July 23, 2019 at 9:56 am Reply

    Honestly myself I would say griveing has been hard since the passing of my grandfather. He was the “Godfather” of the family and my best mentor of how to love and live. through him I live everyday to better myself and others. o am truly blessed to have known such a great man.

  6. Ryan  July 23, 2019 at 9:56 am Reply

    Honestly myself I would say griveing has been hard since the passing of my grandfather. He was the “Godfather” of the family and my best mentor of how to love and live. through him I live everyday to better myself and others. o am truly blessed to have known such a great man.

  7. Ryan  July 23, 2019 at 9:56 am Reply

    Honestly myself I would say griveing has been hard since the passing of my grandfather. He was the “Godfather” of the family and my best mentor of how to love and live. through him I live everyday to better myself and others. o am truly blessed to have known such a great man.

  8. Ann Pappas  June 10, 2019 at 2:09 pm Reply

    Can this list be reproduced and used in classes being taught on grief? I would be interested in doing so. Please let me know if I can if I give credit to the author/site.

  9. Ann Pappas  June 10, 2019 at 2:09 pm Reply

    Can this list be reproduced and used in classes being taught on grief? I would be interested in doing so. Please let me know if I can if I give credit to the author/site.

  10. Ann Pappas  June 10, 2019 at 2:09 pm Reply

    Can this list be reproduced and used in classes being taught on grief? I would be interested in doing so. Please let me know if I can if I give credit to the author/site.

  11. Patti  July 10, 2018 at 8:36 pm Reply

    I lost my Husband at the end of April 2018, He was the love of my life, I token care of him for a year during his terrible illness. I also lost who I am. Reading all the steps will help me to find myself again.

  12. Patti  July 10, 2018 at 8:36 pm Reply

    I lost my Husband at the end of April 2018, He was the love of my life, I token care of him for a year during his terrible illness. I also lost who I am. Reading all the steps will help me to find myself again.

  13. Patti  July 10, 2018 at 8:36 pm Reply

    I lost my Husband at the end of April 2018, He was the love of my life, I token care of him for a year during his terrible illness. I also lost who I am. Reading all the steps will help me to find myself again.

  14. Caroline  April 6, 2018 at 2:10 am Reply

    When my Mother died, my husband was there to comfort mr, now he’s gone, there’s no one to hold me and love me. The loss is unbearable.

  15. Caroline  April 6, 2018 at 2:10 am Reply

    When my Mother died, my husband was there to comfort mr, now he’s gone, there’s no one to hold me and love me. The loss is unbearable.

  16. Claire Du plessis  March 17, 2018 at 12:15 am Reply

    I was told three days ago that I am losing my disabled son. He’s cognitively well, such a huge personality and so loving. My body hurts from head to toe if I’m like this now how will I be when he passes! Not to mention is 4:15am here in England and i can’t sleep. Neither he nor his younger brother and sister know what is happening yet.

  17. Claire Du plessis  March 17, 2018 at 12:15 am Reply

    I was told three days ago that I am losing my disabled son. He’s cognitively well, such a huge personality and so loving. My body hurts from head to toe if I’m like this now how will I be when he passes! Not to mention is 4:15am here in England and i can’t sleep. Neither he nor his younger brother and sister know what is happening yet.

  18. Pam  November 6, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    Thank you for this article!
    Not only did my mom unexpectedly pass away- three weeks prior my husband was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I thought I was nuts feeling like this, the article is bang on with descriptions, it validates how I am feeling. So much brain fog – I call it scrambled most days, my body feels like a truck ran over it, my arms feel like lead and I am a slug most of the time. I am doing most of the suggested treatments, massage, acupuncture, counseling and flotation therapy. Lets pray we all get through this in good time.

  19. Pam  November 6, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    Thank you for this article!
    Not only did my mom unexpectedly pass away- three weeks prior my husband was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I thought I was nuts feeling like this, the article is bang on with descriptions, it validates how I am feeling. So much brain fog – I call it scrambled most days, my body feels like a truck ran over it, my arms feel like lead and I am a slug most of the time. I am doing most of the suggested treatments, massage, acupuncture, counseling and flotation therapy. Lets pray we all get through this in good time.

  20. william  September 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm Reply

    major depressed at the moment, my ma has had a stroke and has lost he speech, she loved singing, now that’s all gone, she is also can not walk, the hardest thing of it all, is that she now has no movement and no speech, caged , when she looks at me , she sheds tears and can not tell me how or what she is thinking and Its worst than death by a million times. trapped. right now I hate this life,
    she is 88 and yes its a grand old age, and yes I know we all die, but that’s doesn’t make me feel any better, to me my ma was the greatest woman who ever walked the earth, but any son would say that. I should be grateful we have had some amazing times together, but I just can not see them right now.
    there are lots of lovely stories on this website, and I hate to be the negative one.
    l wish you all well.

  21. Janet walker  June 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm Reply

    I lost my lover and best friend yesterday morning. He dropped dead at my feet while bridling one of his horses. He was everything to me. People are telling me that he was lucky cause he was somewhere that he was happy and he was with his best friend. I miss him so much. I hope that everyone has the honorary of knowing someone that has those qualities

  22. Irene  February 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm Reply

    Can you send me this article on all these ways to cope and face grief ?
    Please and thank you

    • Eleanor  February 23, 2016 at 11:36 am Reply

      Irene,

      I’m not sure I understand what you are asking for?

      Eleanor

  23. Solange Milan, LMFT, DAPA  February 20, 2016 at 10:50 am Reply

    Dear Juliette ~

    This tribute to your mother is SO beautiful – bursting with the joys of living that she manifested and taught others. You are fortunate to have had her and I sense too that she appreciated who you are and how you were with her. Your descriptions brought her to us readers as Inspiration to live and love fully.

    I am sharing this site & especially your beautiful tribute with my clients (I’m a licensed psychotherapist) to pass on the inspiration that you gave all of us.
    Take gentle & loving care of yourself, please.

    Thank you so much!

  24. Juliette  January 11, 2016 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Hello, I lost my mother 4 months ago. We were very close, confidents and good friends. I took care of her for more than 15 years and I spent 6 months of the year visiting her far away from the USA, staying 2 to 3 months at a time. She was ill but not terminally ill. She died all of the sudden in my arms. I tried to resuscitate her with CPR despite the nurse being there but she was frozen in shock and I could not bring her back to life. The traumatic event and also seeing her being cremated and I was not aware she was being cremated because I was in shock it has been more than I could take and since then I am not being here, it is very traumatic feeling and not feeling and harder to explain to people who expect me to grow up from grief because I am in my 60´ s and my mom was 97 and of course she could not live forever but there is longevity in my family up to 110 years of age and she died and is in heaven blabla bla. People meaning well makes me sick. I am surrounded but her memory, she lived an admirable life, was very happy, she was pampered by all, was very strong lady, survived many loses with grace, grew old and wise, was vain and loved clothes and purses and shoes, took very good care of herself. At her age she had all her teeth. She had an incredible memory for events and conversations. She memorized all the telephones. She played the piano. She could cook and she could paint and do ceramics and all kind of crafts. She could shoot a gun. She rode horses. She was very active with communities and volunteered her time and gave classes and lessons to everybody. She liked to share knowledge. She liked to make her own Christmas gifts. She knew how to embroider and sew, and knit and paint in fabric. She helped all the family members. She was up to date with the news. She was marvelous. Most of all she was a wonderful wife, family member and the best mother anyone can have. She encouraged me, protected me, advised me. I am who I am because of her. I owe all I am to my mother. It is difficult to live without her. I can´t function anymore. I feel like a squeezed up lemon.

  25. Kim carnline  August 27, 2014 at 11:21 pm Reply

    I lost my daughter in 2011..she was 19..I’m steal grieving and it still do sent seem real..I have a lot of love and support from friends and family. .I love the ideas you have and 8th all makes since. .I’ve done a lot of these things you suggested and they help and are important to do ..just not over the yet but thank you this is helpful to know..it’s overwhelming to lose a child.

    • Eleanor  August 28, 2014 at 10:44 am Reply

      Kim, I’m sorry for your loss. It makes sense to me that you would still be grieving. I’m sure it is so terribly overwhelming. One day, one hour, one minute, one breath at a time…right?

  26. David  April 22, 2014 at 12:45 am Reply

    Think, measure reward vs consequences and act. my simple way to live

  27. Beth Marshall  April 16, 2014 at 10:43 am Reply

    Just revisited this amazing post; and #49 [reckless abandon dance] made me smile out loud. You two are the coolest. Thank you for keeping it real.

  28. Aimee DuFresne  February 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm Reply

    I LOVE this list – thank you so much for sharing. #15 and #61 really helped me after I lost my father and my young husband. Six years on and I’m now getting the hang of #14.

    Thanks for being a bright spot on my day!

    Aimee

  29. Eleanor  February 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm Reply

    Ahhh Peggy thank you so much! “Just the way a good friend would be” = the best compliment we’ve ever received on this blog. I’m really glad to hear the blog has been of some help and support to you. Also, I’m sorry about your father’s death. I’m sure this last week has been emotional and hectic so I really hope something on that list motivates you to take some time for yourself.

    Sincerely,
    Eleanor

  30. Peggy  February 26, 2014 at 10:58 am Reply

    Eleanor, I have long loved and appreciated WYG, but never more than now….my father died last week (easily and peacefully in his own bed, with people who cared dearly for him, not attached to a bunch of machines, at the ripe old age of 93. It doesn’t get much better than that), and your self-care ideas will probably be printed out and put on my bulletin board for reference!

    Your supportive, realistic (#38 & #39), good advice full of understanding and writing style hit just the right tone, making all this just a little bit easier to navigate. So many great ideas and reminders, and no judgement if I don’t “get it right” the first time around. Just the way a good friend would be.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Peggy

  31. Jeremy Shatan  February 25, 2014 at 6:45 am Reply

    This is fantastic! I never would’ve thought there were that many!

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