15 Grief Activities That Can Help You Heal and Cope With Loss
“There is no right way to grieve; there is only your way.”
Life is a complex web of mystery and intrigue. Once you find your footing, there comes a vengeful tide that sweeps you off your feet, leaving you untethered. This wave, we call, grief. Life, love, and loss – are the three elements that are never apart from each other. Where there is life, there is love; and where there is love, there is loss. Loss is followed naturally by grief – whether it’s the loss of a loved one, an unexpected life change, or something else.
Grief comes naturally, but often in the throes of grief, we forget that healing comes naturally as well. When I lost my grandfather, I was told that I was taking his loss calmly. What others didn’t know was that I was a mess of emotions within. I was told that I’m not grieving the right way, but is there a right way to grieve?
Later, a cousin of mine assured me that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Just your way. And the comforting part is that you make your own way. My cousin, a spiritual mentor, helped me begin my healing journey with meditation. When I talked to her about this peculiar way of letting go, she told me that healing doesn’t always have to be linear. Just like grief doesn’t have a pattern, healing doesn’t have a way. You do what helps you and this includes grief activities meant to heal.
So, taking wisdom from my cousin, I have compiled some healing grief activities that you can engage in or participate in to cope with your loss and find a way in life. These grief activities aren’t just for adults, but they are for kids and teens experiencing loss and grief.
Grief and Its Signs
Grief is a complex emotional response that may include a range of emotions and feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt, and even relief. It’s important to recognize that everyone experiences grief differently. If you or a loved one in your life is experiencing grief, then here are some signs to watch out for;
- Feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, and anxiety
- Physical symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, and changes in appetite
- Cognitive changes such as difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Behavioral changes such as withdrawal from social activities and a loss of interest in activities
- Spending time thinking about the meaning of life, death, and the afterlife
Now that you know what grief might look like, here are some grief activities for adults, teens, and kids that can help cope with loss.
Grief Activities for Adults
1. Writing in a Journal or Writing Letters
As you process your grief, you can find comfort in writing about the feelings and emotions you’re experiencing. Anything that comes to your mind when you think about your loss – write it down. It could be your thoughts, feelings, and even memories. If you choose, you can also write a letter addressed to the lost loved one as a way to express your emotions and process the loss.
2. Joining Grief Support Groups
Joining grief support groups can also be a healing grief activity you can engage in. Grief support groups can offer a safe space for you to share your experiences, learn from others, and receive support from those who have been through similar experiences. Joining support groups can also give you a sense of belonging and community where you might be feeling alone.
3. Trying Creative Art Therapy
Art in itself is a powerful tool of self-expression, but when it comes to grief, art can be a tremendous help in healing and coping with loss. Engaging and creating art projects such as painting, drawing, crafting, or even sculpting, can help you process your emotions and express the pain of your loss within.
4. Letting Go of Pain with Meditation
Or you can try meditation, like me, to process your grief. Practicing meditation or even mindfulness is a way that can help you stay grounded in the present and reduce anxiety that comes from all the pain and distress you experience from the loss. You can practice techniques like deep breathing to soothe yourself.
5. Creating a Memory Box
As a grief activity, you can also create a memory box where you collect mementos and keepsakes that remind you of the lost loved one or experience. I have a box where I keep a vial of essential oil that reminds me of my granddad along with his favorite reading glasses and my grandma’s ring. You can also create a memory box of some kind that can comfort you when you miss your loved one the most.
There’s a way that my mom likes to honor my late uncle’s memory – she donates food to charity homes. You can also try something like this or volunteer at either your favorite charity or an organization that your loved one was dedicated to. Giving back to the community or helping others in need can give you a sense of purpose and help you heal during the grieving process.
Grief Activities for Kids
7. Making a Memory Collage
As adults, we know what grief entails, but children are not so attuned to their emotions or knowledgeable when it comes to grief. However, there are ways you can help the kid in your life process grief and begin healing. Children can create a memory collage with pictures, drawings, and words to remember the one they lost.
If there’s a kid in your life who is experiencing loss and grief, then you can help them process the loss by encouraging them to write stories or draw pictures of their loved ones, helping them remember, honor, and process the loss at the same time.
9. Releasing Balloons or Lanterns
For children, grief might be a foreign concept but the emotions they might feel are quite real and valid. They just don’t know what to do with them. To help them process their grief, you can organize a balloon release or lantern release event in the memory of the lost loved one. You can ask the child to write a message or draw something that reminds them of the deceased on the balloon or lantern before release.
10. Keeping Stuffed Animals for Comfort
Children are naive and often find comfort in little things – even when it involves cuddling with a stuffed animal or soft toy. So, to help your child process their emotions, allow them to choose a stuffed animal or toy that can make them relate to the loss and grieve as they process.
11. Planting a Memorial Garden
There’s no better way to help a child honor a lost loved one than to help them plant a tree or garden in memory of the loss. Why do I say it’s the best way? Because a child might have experienced a loss that they are confused about when it comes to their feelings, planting a garden or a tree can help a child see that there’s life after loss. Plus, caring for a garden can be a tribute that a child can care for and find comfort in.
Grief Activities for Teens
12. Creating a Music Playlist
Teens, just like kids, deal differently with loss than adults. For teens, grieving can be confusing but not less painful. I was a teen when I lost my grandma and I felt confused but distressed. I knew loss, but I didn’t know how to understand my feelings.
Music helped me cope with my loss. So, if you have a teen in your life who is experiencing grief, then encourage them to create a music playlist with songs that remind them of their loved one or help them express what they are feeling but can’t name.
13. Engaging in Creative Writing
Teens are more creative than we like to think, so let them go creative. Encourage them to write poems, essays, or stories to help them process their grief and share their feelings. Teens know what feelings and emotions are, but they don’t always know how to express them. With creative writing, expressing becomes easier about what they can’t say but are feeling.
14. Engaging in Physical Exercises
Physical activities can be a good way to increase the production of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers. Engaging in physical exercises can help reduce stress and improve mood. So encourage your teen to participate in sports or engage in activities that promote physical strength such as yoga, swimming, cycling, etc.
15. Joining Online Grief Support Communities
For anyone, teens or adults, the best way to understand and cope with what you’re feeling is to seek help from support groups and communities – online or offline.
Teens, in particular, might not feel comfortable talking to people face-to-face, so they can join safe online grief support communities to seek comfort. Grief forums and groups can offer a sense of connection with others who are or have gone through similar experiences.
“Grief is a process, not a state.” – Anne Grant
Grief is a natural part of life. From life comes love and from love comes loss, but finding ways to heal from the loss is what brings you closer to processing the grief. These grief activities for adults, kids, and teens, are just tools to help you – no matter your age – make your way out of the painful wave of grief and loss.
Remember, grief is a process and as with all processes, healing from grief takes time. I hope these grief activities can help you find comfort and support along the way as you start your healing journey.
Did you find this article helpful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. You can also share the grief activity you found solace and support in, in the comments below.