Self Care While Grieving: Comfort Quickies

From the Center for Grief Recovery

By Chris Rothman, Ph.D.

During grieving, it is common to need breaks from our emotions. This in no way dishonors the seriousness of our concerns and the memories of our loved one. These ideas may give you some additional nourishment to respond to the stress that comes with grieving.

•Lie in the sun streaming in through your windows. Bathe, breathe in the sun.

•Designate an afternoon or evening and take the phone off the hook.

•When you are worried or obsessing, set up a specific time of the day to "worry" for 20 minutes. Set a timer. When the time is up, do something rewarding for yourself.

•Do something you're good at. It is important to ground yourself in your skills and abilities, even if the outcome isn't up to par (trouble concentrating and decreased zest are common in grief).

•Comfort yourself by taking a warm bath using your favorite scents, and burn aromatherapy candles. It's invigorating and relaxing at the same time.

•Buy yourself or your loved one a gift—and have the clerk gift wrap it. Choose the prettiest paper and bow. Celebrate fond memories.

•Wrap up in a warm blanket. Put on relaxation tapes and sip your favorite tea or hot chocolate.

•Dressed in comfortable clothing, find a rocking chair and rock your troubles away.

•Play music that matches your mood. Feel understood by the songs and singers that share your experiences.

•Especially when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, forget about making to-do lists. Instead, at the close of each day, make a list of what's been done.

•Burn Russian amber or sandalwood incense.

•Find something alive to care for, such as a plant or a pet.

•Eat at least one nourishing meal each day, even if the food doesn't hit your taste buds like you're used to.

•Make a fire in the fireplace and do some stretching and focus on yourself. You can add your favorite soft music to this, if you wish.

•Breathe—really breathe! Take deep breaths in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth.

•Say "No" to something… and "Yes" to yourself.

•Try gentle exercise like yoga, tai chi, or walking.

•Spend some time in nature.

•Make a memory box, collage, or journal to store your thoughts and memories.

Related articles:
Creatively Coping With Grief
What Helps When We’re Stumbling in the Dark
What Helps When We’re Experiencing the Unthinkable
Helping Children Through Grief

Also from the Center for Grief Recovery:
The Grief Experience
Grief in the Workplace: An Outline for Helping
Managing the Holidays

The Center for Grief Recovery is a full service, non-profit nationwide Counseling Center helping persons who are dealing with emotionally intense experiences such as Grief, Loss, Trauma, Depression or Abuse. You can learn more at

Image credit: Datacraft/Getty Images


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Comment by John J Koons on January 9, 2014 at 9:32pm

The biggest turning point in my self-care was when I realized that life would never be the same and began perceiving this major change as a new chapter in life. We will be together again, I know this, but, meanwhile, I'm gonna drain life of every beautiful moment it has to offer ... or the both of us. As I said in a previous post, I do not want to meet up with him and have to face his rath for throwing the rest of my life away grieving over him. I celebrate our wonderful life together and I live the rest of my life for the both of us.    

Comment by W Hman on November 22, 2011 at 5:12pm

Some additional practical suggestions would be:

Rely on friends: Don't hesitate to let others help if they offer. Understand this is their way of showing you how they feel. 

Take care of your health: Grieving can wear you out, especially in the beginning.  Your body needs sufficient rest, proper nourishment, and a checkup by your doctor might be in order.

Get back into a regular routine: The structure of a normal routine will do you a lot of good.

Do not be unduly anxious: You may find yourself worrying. The Bible counsels to take one day at a time. Matthew 6:25-34 helps us to see that we should"never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have it own anxiety."  Instead may the words found at 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 bring you comfort for it says, "Blessed be...the father of tender merices and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all tribulation. These Bible texts are comforting for all emtions, but especially if you are grieving.

Comment by Jo on October 15, 2010 at 9:12am
Do the same things alone that you did together.I have found that curling up on the couch with a heating pad and watching a movie is a comforting thing to do.We loved movies.Alone is VERY hard,but let your mind go somewhere else fo a couple of hours.
Comment by Dignity Memorial NC on July 8, 2010 at 9:11am
Great post - sometimes helping yourself first can help you understand your grief, which will help you recover emotionally from your loss. We actually found some great resources online that help in the grieving process as well: The most important thing is to address your feelings and work through them -- not suppress them.
Comment by Elizabeth Levenson on July 2, 2010 at 12:16pm
We set up a memorial scholarship fund in our son's name. He died in Dec. '08 at age 47, after a torturous six years with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). In Apr.'09 & '10 fundraising events held at the college on his birthday raised a good sum, so we plan to hold the event each year. It feels as if we're keeping him with us, and it's quite comforting. He was a professional musician, as is our older son, who often includes some of his brother's songs in his performances. Liz in New York
Comment by julie thomas on February 4, 2010 at 11:26pm
what i did for months that helped me through grief was feeding the birds. i would fill up their feeder in my back yard and watch them. pulling weeds, getting your hands in the dirt and working in the soil helped tremendiously. you cant get past crying, allow yourself to feel and grieve and remember the good times as well as the bad, it is therapudic for yourself.
Comment by Diamond on July 30, 2009 at 7:39pm
Comfort can always be found in the scriptures - Revelatiojn 21:3,4 - brings so much comfort not only for those who just lost a love one but also for those of us still here coping with the everything life and knowing that this world is truly a beautiful place and that God will ultimately fulfill his plans for man to live in paradise. - Psalms 37: 9-11.

Just the thought of peace forever - brings so much comfort!

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