Grief crashes into our lives uninvited and unwelcome, and sorrow lingers too long. How can we cope with loss and its burdens?
One way is to connect with others who are mourning. Sharing insights can encourage and give us the strength to endure.
“For 50 years, I was part of ‘we,’” one widow said in a support group. “Now it’s just me.” She found solace being able to talk with others who understood the vast loneliness.
Participants discussed helpful strategies. Here are some of their ideas:
- Keep a diary of recollections.
“I was afraid of losing all the memories, so I started journaling. Once I began putting these on paper, I could relax again.”
- Invite someone for a simple outing to distract from problems.
“One thing my friend did for me was invite me to go see a movie. For a little while, I could just be ‘normal’ again.”
- Offer to help sort paperwork or run errands.
“I hate going to the mailbox because there’s always something else in there that I have to do,” a widow said. “I never seem to be able to get everything done.”
- Prepare meals that can be stored and eaten later.
“The best thing anyone can do for someone facing loss is to bring over a healthy dinner, so the grieving person doesn’t have to worry about cooking with everything else going on.”
- Give a life skill tutorial, such as how to replace air filters in a home or change a cell phone’s recording.
“For 55 years, my wife spoiled me and did all the cooking. When she was gone, I didn’t know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.”
- Present a comforting presence, without the need for conversation.
“I wanted someone to sit with me in my pain and not try to fix it.”
- Respect a person’s wishes for solitude.
“I don’t like to cry in front of people. I needed space to be alone.”
- Ask “Is there something specific I can do for you this week?” This is better than the generic “How are you doing?” because that often touches sensitive spots.
“I quit going to church after my wife was gone because I got tired of trying to answer questions that only dredged up hurt.”
- Create keepsakes, such as quilts from a loved one’s clothing. Or donate items that can be treasured by others, such as at a homeless shelter.
“My sister-in-law had two of my wife’s special coats made into a remembrance teddy bear and gave the stuffed animal to me at Christmas. That was a wonderful present that sits on the couch today.”
- Read books that describe grief and coping strategies. Two recommendations include:
Gary Roe’s “Grief Walk: Experiencing God after the Loss of a Loved One”
Ken Gire’s “The Weathering Grace of God: The Beauty God Brings from Life’s Upheavals”
Grief looks different for everyone. But one thing that is the same is our need for extra sensitivity and love as we navigate how to move forward.
A novel dealing with ways to come alongside others wrestling sorrow is Who Brought the Dog to Church?
Available at Amazon at
Vendors who make a teddy bear using fabric from the beloved’s favorite clothes:
Insightful article about coping with adult grief: