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20 Key Ways of Keeping Afloat: The First Months After Loss

white sail under dark cloud

  1. Hold onto hope. Survival is possible and pain does soften over time; as hard as it is to believe, you won’t always feel this way.

  2. Support is out there – others have survived this and may be able to help you: blogs, books, websites, articles, online support, local groups, as well as friends and family. See my posts on helpful websites and organisations, reading recommendations and words of hope

  3. Be kind to yourself in as many ways as you can manage. Practice self-compassion

  4. Don’t think about tomorrow. Just focus on finding ways of getting through the next 10 minutes/hour/day.

  5. Look after your physical body as best you can. Eat healthily if you are able; don’t drink too much if you can help it – it won’t help long term – but don’t beat yourself up if you do.

  6. Go out every single day, even if its just for a walk round the block, or a moment in the garden.

  7. Do things to calm and distract you: a bath, a book, a film, a candle, a hug, a jigsaw, music, walk in nature, meditation, read and/or write poetry, breathing practice/meditation.

  8. Keep physically active if possible, and try to find some structure and routine after the first few shellshocked weeks.

  9. Talk to anyone who will listen, and then talk some more.

  10. Write if you can: a journal, letters or messages to others.

  11. Accept any practical help offered.

  12. Plan small things, put things in the diary.

  13. In time plan bigger things, even if you aren't interested, they'll give you something to prepare for, even look forward to.

  14. Read stuff that chimes with your experience.

  15. Read stuff that takes you away from your experience.

  16. Connect with others: As Julia Samuel advises “When we’re grieving, our road needs to be paved with people” (PESI recorded interview June 2021 Good Grief Channel).

  17. Spend time with those who share your grief/have their own grief.

  18. Spend time with those who do not share your grief/have their own grief.

  19. Remind yourself that although you may feel alone, we are all part of a common humanity. No-one goes through life without suffering. If others seem lucky to you, remember that they too suffer, albeit in different ways.

  20. Of course, none of these things will help in the immediate term. They will simply allow you to survive the minutes, hours, days, weeks and eventually months. One day there will be a tiny glimmer of something, maybe a moment of peace, perhaps a chink of light from a child/grandchild’s smile…

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