Friday, June 21, 2013

Grief Project - 7 Everyday Small Things to Do to Lighten Grief

Inspired by Dr. Louis E. Lagrand author of Healing Grief, Finding Peace,  I have created my top 7 Everyday Small Things to Do to Lighten Grief that I find has helped soften my grief this month. 

1. Use Color

Remember those old  movies set in the Victorian era where the mourner wears black for a year after the death of a loved one.  Well, that isn't recommended any more.  Why not?  Because colors influence mood, emotion, spirituality, attitude, and behavior, according to Dr. Louis E. Lagrand author of Healing Grief, Finding Peace.  So why not use bright colors while grieving as a pick-me-up.  Blue and Green are the colors often recommend to promote healing and relaxation while Red can be inspiring.  Dr. Lagrand recommends staying away from Purple or Black for the time being.  So be intentional with what you choose to wear or the colors you decorate your life with.  Letting in more color might lighten your grief for a moment or two.

2. Give & Get a Hug

When we are grieving, we need to feel connected. Hugging is holding and a form of touching.  We need to feel supported and "held" during our grief.  Giving and getting hugs can help us feel as if, just for a moment, others can physically "hold' or support our pain.  Touching, too, works wonders on healing, it's our first language and we are biologically prone to do it.  Touching increases levels of Oxytocin (the love chemical) and can even mitigate pain. So give someone a hug.  According to The Power of Touch in Psychology Today, studies have shown that you get just as much benefits from being the giver of a hug as a receiver.  You will lighten your grief and maybe brighten someone else's day.

3. Read a Quote

Words have POWER!  That is why they can be so hurtful or so HEALING.  In therapy with my clients I often recommend positive affirmations or quotes as an inspirational tool for healing emotional pain.  Reading quotes about other peoples experience with grief can help us learn how to conceptualize ours.  It can also provide us hope in knowing others have walked this wicked road before and made it out the other side. I don't have any sage advice, just Google "Grief Quotes" and find ones you like and print them off and put them on your mirror.  Or keep a grief quote journal.  Or, maybe, like Facebook Pages that share inspirational grief quotes like, The Miss Foundation, The Compassionate Friends, Stillbirthday, The Grieving Parent, or 2012: Love and Loss.  They will provided you with daily quotes about grief after child loss. Just remember, there is POWER in words.

4. Be Nourished By Nature 

There is something so healing about nature.  Going for a walk and hearing the leaves or gravel move under your feet.  Listening to the birds sing and the wind rustle through the trees and the river babble.  There seems to be nothing more nourishing then this. Dr. Lagrand says that mourners are often "nature-deficient." From spending time just trying to do the basics, like going to work and making it through the day. And in doing so we over look the benefits that nature can bring. If nothing else comes from being outside, getting exposure to sun increases your levels of Vitamin D, which leads to an improvement in  your mood.   

 5. Turn off the T.V., Turn Down the Radio 

Media today is filled with negativity and suffering.  The news, for me, can be at times an added source of pain.  According to the Journal of Economic Psychology, TV viewers report lower life satisfaction and more anxiety, which one does not need when grieving. Loud music and crowded places also seems to add to my anxiety and grief. You owe it to yourself to only allow airwaves in that add positivity to your life.  So, choose wisely in what you watch and listen to while grieving.  

6. Indulge

Remember to treat yourself kindly during grief.  Once in awhile it's okay to be indulgent, as long as it isn't a negative coping mechanism to deal with the pain like drinking or using drugs.  Everything in moderation is my moto.  In Healing Your Grieving Heart After Stillbirth, authors Wolfelt and Maloney recommend practicing self-compassion by letting go of judgements about your grief.  I see this as also letting go of judgments about how you choose to heal as well.  So if a piece of cake you normally wouldn't eat brings you a moment of joy or you want to splurge on that massage you have been holding out on, I say, GO FOR IT. 

7. Learn Something New
By learning a new task we help our brain create new connections and pathways that Nero-science has proven, keeps our brain's healthy. Grief creates stress and negative emotions in our life which can affect how our brain functions.  We are essentially on grief overload which activates the pain centers of our brain and slows our thinking process at times.  One way to counter this is to always strive to learn something new.  Maybe start that hobby you have been meaning to try or revisit an old one.  I know that getting involved in the blogging world and challenging myself to be a writer has helped me stay positive during my grief.  Pick up a new hobby or learn something new.  It might help lessen some moments of grief.  



  1. I just started following your blog a few days ago. We lost our son at 37 weeks on June 12th, and your blog is bringing me a lot of comfort, and helping me to realize that my husband and I are not alone.

    1. Hi Tami,

      I am so sorry to hear about the lost of your son. The pain is so raw and intense at times, especially in the first days after the loss. I hope for you peace and sending thoughts your way.

      Keep in touch and know there are great resources out there for people like us. And yes, unfortunately, we are not alone. But this community is full of wonderful people who "get it."


      Lindsey Henke

  2. Thank you for sharing. I attended a memorial service for my nephew on June 21. Still in shock from his passing. He was 23 yet finding healing and comfort at your blog. So grateful ...

  3. I am encouraged by your courage to share your loss for your son. I wish my Birth Mother could show me the same. An Adoptee.


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