Self Care Advice

Grief is a process that takes time, patience, and understanding. There are, however, some things you can do to take some control during this painful time. Your physical self is often the easiest place to begin.

Start by:

  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Reducing sugar intake
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day
  • Eat lots of juicy fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise daily
  • Get as much rest as you can
  • Learn to meditate
  • Learn to say no to things you don’t have energy to do
  • Allow yourself time to mourn each day
  • Using a journal can ease the pain. Make your journal your best friend, you can pour your feelings out without fear of evaluation
  • Don’t isolate yourself, share your pain with a compassionate person or find a counsellor with experience in grief and loss
  • Believe in yourself and your ability to adjust to your pain
  • Nurture yourself, use art, poetry, music, massage, or anything that makes you feel good

Grief During the Holidays

Allen Sawkins and Laurissa Kowalchuk of the Living Through Loss Counselling Society of BC discuss strategies for dealing with the challenges of grief during the holidays.

I just wanted to say thank you for that video, I recently lost my dad and it’s very hard, especially with Christmas and the New Year looming. You both addressed so many of the things I’m going through and I appreciate knowing I’m not alone in what I’m feeling. Thank you, Happy Holidays.
Josie Martinez

The pain we experience when we lose someone we love is more intense during special days. The expectation of relaxation, happiness, and celebration makes a sharp contrast to the pain of loss. Nothing can change our reality but there are some things to do to manage grief and help ourselves to cope.

Plan Ahead

Decide in advance how the special day or days will be spent. However, be flexible if you find things aren’t working out as expected. The plan was made to help, not to cause more distress. So be realistic.

Talk About Your Grief

Friends and family do not always understand that your loved one is never out of your mind. Try to give your sorrow words, or write them in a journal. It is healthy to share your memories both happy and sad with people who care.

We Have Tears For A Purpose

Scientists speculate that tears contain a component that has the effect of improving our emotional state. However it works, experience tells us that crying is healing. If you don’t feel comfortable crying in the presence of others, allow time to cry alone. It will relieve the pressure and help you to control your grief in social settings. Holidays are arbitrary but your grief has a life of its own and won’t always allow you to put it on hold.

Re-evaluate Family Traditions

This may help to blunt the sharp sad memories of how things used to be. Consider altering the way things have always been done. Design new rituals and traditions, or do something symbolic to memorialize your loved one.

You Are The Best Authority On Your Grief

During the holidays well meaning friends may try to help by keeping you busy or making sure you are never alone. It is important for you to determine for yourself what is best. Discuss your wishes with someone you trust. It will help clarify your needs and make it easier to explain what your limits are.

Spend Time With People You Trust

Try not to isolate yourself with your feelings. Friends who do not judge your behaviour, who allow you to talk about your grief and accept your feelings are invaluable. Ask them to help you guard against wearing them out! You will need to save their valuable help for the days ahead.

Recognize Your Physical and Psychological Limitations

Most people experience fatigue during grief. Don’t hesitate to excuse yourself from commitments you feel too tired or sad to attend. Keeping busy has its uses but also risks delaying or avoiding sadness that must be experienced to heal. Avoid places, situations and people you believe may cause you stress or anxiety. Instead allow time for simple activities that sooth and relax and provide creative outlets of your own choosing. Allow yourself to just ‘be’.

Use All Resources That Are Available To You

If you have a faith or religion that gives you comfort, this is a time to depend on it. A vacation in a new environment is not necessarily avoidance of a loss, it can help you feel alive again and somewhat involved with life. Sharing feelings with others, even strangers, who have had similar experience can give perspective and assure you that you will survive. Grief counselling in groups or individually can assist you in understanding your grief, and help you to cope with its manifestations. Above all, be kind to yourself and know that your pain is entirely appropriate, considering your loss. Grief comes as a result of love and is a tribute to your relationship.

Plan Ahead

Talk About Your Grief

We Have Tears For A Purpose

Re-evaluate Family Traditions

You Are The Best Authority On Your Grief

Spend Time With People You Trust

Recognize Your Physical and Psychological Limitations

Use All Resources That Are Available To You

Articles and Books

Recommended Books

Ammerman, J. Mark & Kathy
Help During Grief, 1996

Akner, Lois
How to Survive the Loss of a Parent

Diets, Bob
Life After Loss: A Personal Guide Dealing With Death, Divorce, Job Change And Relocation, 1992

Doka, Kenneth
Disenfranchised Grief, Recognizing Hidden Sorrow, 1989 Living with Grief after Sudden Loss (Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Heart Attach, Stroke), (ed) 1996

Ericsson, Stephanie
Companion Through the Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief, 1988

Fisher, Richard
Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, 1992

Hunter, Marlene
Making Peace with Chronic Pain, 1996

Klein, Sandra Jacoby
Heavenly Hurts – Surviving Aids Related Death And Loss, 1998

Kermentz, Jill
How it Feels When a Parent Dies, 1981

Rando, Therese A., Ph.D.
Grieving: How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies, 1991

Sanders, Catherine Dr.
Surviving Grief & Learning To Live Again, 1992

Shernoff, Michael
Gay Widowers: Life After The Death Of A Partner, 1998

Staudacher, Carol
Men & Grief, 1991 Beyond Grief: A Guide to Returning from a Death of a Loved One

Wolfelt, Alan
Understanding Grief: Help Yourself Heal

BC Bereavement Helpline

The BC Bereavement Helpline is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the healthy and wholesome recovery of individuals experiencing grief. They provide the public and particularly the bereaved with information on how to seek help for themselves or individuals known to them who are in need of assistance through their grief.

British Columbia HOSPICE Palliative Care Associaton (BCHPCA)

BCHPCA is an umbrella organization that provides a leadership role for its member organizations and individuals to ensure quality of care for British Columbians faced with a life-threatening illness, death and bereavement.

Camp Kerry Society

Camp Kerry Society is a nonprofit organization specializing in bereavement care that specializes in Grief Counselling, Family Grief Support Groups, Family Bereavement Camps & Retreats and Grief and Loss Workshops for Health Care Professionals, Teachers, & Community Groups.

Just Singin’ Round

Just Singin’ Round (JSR) is a community-based foundation that blends art with social responsibility. JSR builds integrated partnerships with local Vancouver charities to support cooperative programming and help sustain community programs. JSR integrates music, dance, film, spoken word, art, food, and comradeship to celebrate the spirit of culture while strengthening the fabric of community.

The Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society

Grieving is a healing process; it is a natural response to loss in our lives. While there are no right or wrong ways to grieve, the Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society helps people cope and live with their loss by offering programs that help the grieving person move from pain to healing.

Michele Davidson – Celebrant

Professional Celebrant Michele Davidson creates ceremonies to bring reflection and meaning to the different chapters of your life. Working from interviews with you as well as her signature reflective process, everything is crafted to be deeply relevant to you. Whether a personal ritual to honour your journey through grief and loss, or a more public memorial service, leave taking, or divorce ceremony, it will be alive with personal symbolism and beautifully reflect who you are.
Complimentary Consultations 

The West Coast Hypnotic Healing Centre

Amanda Branscombe is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master.  She provides Hypnotherapy and Reiki sessions at her New Westminster office.

Hypnosis can help with such things as stress reduction, anxiety, addiction, depression, self-development and rehearsal for success, fears and phobias, improvement in health; physical and emotional, pain control, smoking, weight control, relaxation, rapid healing, separation and loss, age regression work and past life.

Amanda has worked with clients experiencing grief due to losing a loved one or a relationship having ended.

Links for Helping with Community Grief and Tragedy

The following websites provide information and resource for parents and supporters in light of the recent school shootings

Attachment Parenting International

API is a non-profit organization that works to prevent, reduce and even eliminate some of the most primary sources of human conflict and maladaptation by helping parents learn the healthiest ways to parent.

An artcle on API on Helping Children Heal

Website | Facebook

American Psychological Association

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting.

Massachusetts General Hospital

Talking with Children about Upsetting News Events


Talking with Children

PBS Parents

Helping Children with Scary News

Zero to Three

Little Listeners in an Uncertain World