There are very many different feelings that emerge from grief, these feelings can range from sadness, despair, guilt, frustration through to anger. There is no right or wrong way to feel when processing your grief. What is important is how you express those feelings – it’s about finding ways to express your grief that feel helpful and useful. We have put together some ideas that you might like to try:
Writing a letter
You could write a letter to the person who has died and maybe say something that you wished you had been able to tell them before they died. Alternatively, letter writing can be useful when you feel unable to tell someone close to you how you are feeling. You don’t have to give it to that person right now, but could keep it and in a few days, weeks or months decide to read all or parts of your letter to them.
Listening to music
Finding music that really connects with how you are feeling can be a very helpful way of letting out difficult thoughts and feelings. You might find it helpful to create a playlist of your favourite songs, or songs you want to listen to at a certain times, for example if you are having a bad day.
Getting your body moving
Channelling emotions through physical activity can really help release the pressure valve. Find out what works for you – yoga and meditation may be helpful for some, whereas, others prefer to be more energetic. A walk which focuses on the world around you, noticing small things and listening out for sounds can often help relax your mind and body. Running or going to the gym, may also help to express emotions such as anger, or worry. Exercise can also release endorphins (feel good hormones) in your brain which may help lift your mood.
Often it is hard to put our thoughts and feelings into words, and so you might wish to do something creative. An alternative way of expressing your feelings might be through making something, baking, drawing, painting, writing poems or stories.
Connecting with others
Grief can often leave people feeling very disconnected with the world; there is a sense of feeling alone and different from others as they continue on with life as before. However, connecting with people and spending time with them can help how we feel.
You might have a close friend that you want to spend time with, or find that it feels easier spending time with your family. Other people also find it helps to connect with others who they can talk to about how they are feeling, for example through online grief forums or you can talk to us using our online chat or ASK email service – click here.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to attend social events when you really don’t want to, it’s ok to not be ok, and to want to have time to yourself. However, there will be time when you feel positive and want to socialize with your friends and find yourself smiling and having fun. Remember that’s ok too. Grief is not just being sad, it can be lots of different feelings.
What’s important is finding that person or group that you can connect with in whatever way works for you.
Here is a few examples of ways young people have told us they used to express their grief:
Jack (12): “I liked to cut out pictures of magazines and stick them in a scrapbook. Some of the pictures were things I liked, or words that described how I was feeling. It felt like a way to put into pictures how I was feeling about my dad’s death.”
Lucy (14): “When my mum died, I found it really hard to talk to anyone about how I was feeling. I would spend a lot of time in my room alone. I found drawing pictures, of animals mainly, helped me to feel calmer. Sometimes I didn’t want to draw a picture, but just put colour or shapes on the page. It helped my anger when I scribbled hard on the paper, or used my left hand, instead of my right hand, so that I didn’t care if the picture looked good or not.
Katie (18): “When I was experiencing grief, it just felt really messy and I didn’t know what I was feeling because I just felt so much so much of the time. I found it helpful to turn to drawing and paints to help express some of what I was feeling. I didn’t have the words but I found I was drawn to using inky blues and purples, that when I dripped them haphazardly onto the paper the colours would bleed into the page – and somehow that seemed to express something of the pain going on inside. The wonderful thing was that it didn’t matter what it looked like – what mattered was the process of doing it and helping to get some of what I experiencing out.”
How to look after your mental health when you are grieving