More Suggestions for Coping with Grief
From Anne Grant, Ph.D.
 Journey of Hearts
A Healing Place in CyberSpaceTM
I requested permission to use the following article by Dr. Anne Grant the weekend she died. To quote one of the members of KARIOS "She was a remarkable lady and will be greatly missed by many, but especially by the AIDS/HIV community."
I would like to believe that by including her words of solace on our web site, not only are we helping others who have experienced grief to cope, but her words will help those who are mourning her loss, and the memory of the grief work she did continues.

by Anne Grant, Ph.D.
This article by Dr. Anne Grant is being reprinted with permission of KARIOS, Support for Caregivers, in her memory.

Here are some understandings about grief and some resources to be called forth to cope with the sometimes over-whelming symptoms of loss.


Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. It is originally an unlearned feeling process. Keeping grief inside increases your pain.

Grief is a process, not a state. There are three major phases:

Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a "map" for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a  transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.

Get help if you need it. The process for each person is unique. Each person has an individual "time line." Allow yourself your uniqueness.

Distinguish between depression and sadness or sorrow. It is natural to feel great sadness for your loss. It may come in "waves" or it might be pervasive over a period of time.

You will probably have a hard time to focus or concentrate on things that feel irrelevant or unimportant. You might feel lethargic or agitated, perhaps in turns. It takes energy and attention to move through the mental/emotional process of grief and you will feel preoccupied with this psychological process.

Anger is a natural response when something you value is taken away from you. You may feel alone, isolated or not understood.


Be aware of your body's needs for nutrition, exercise and rest.
Try to listen to your body's "messages" rather than imposing what you think it should want to do.

Listening to your body is different from "doing something for" it.

Try asking the part of your body feeling a particular sensation, "If you could talk, what  would you say? What would meet your need?"

Find, or create a supportive network. These will need to be persons who are willing to listen with their hearts and to allow you to express your feelings, not just your thoughts.

Break any problem into, or make any changes in, small increments.

Feel, and try to be creative in ways to express your emotions:

            Vigorous physical exercise or work activity
            Drawing, painting or sculpting
            Writing or reading poetry
            Music or interpretive dance
            Writing a journal or an ongoing letter to your loved person
            Writing a specific letter to express anger. If you plan not to send it at all, or
            without editing, you can write just as emphatically as you feel.
            Relaxation exercises, meditation, prayer, massage
            Shouting/screaming in your car or on an empty beach

Distinguish between depression and sadness or sorrow. It is natural to feel great sadness for your loss. It may come in "waves" or it might be pervasive over a period of time.

If you are worried about depression or despair, it sometimes helps to set a time limit of perhaps an hour, by the clock or timer. Plan a distraction for yourself at the end of the time limit. Then allow it free reign, really sink into it and, at the end of the hour, arrange the distraction you planned.

Notice the difference between feelings and mental thoughts or ideas. Both can be true even though they might be in conflict. "I'm glad he is no longer suffering" is true, but may conflict with the feeling of being abandoned and left to pick up the pieces of  your shattered life.

Try to nurture and replenish each aspect of yourself: heart, mind, spirit and body.

Take one day at a time. To look too far into the future is overwhelming and immobilizing ... just get through today.

Dr. Anne Grant was the Grief Project Coordinator for KARIOS Support for Caregivers, as well as a public speaker, hospice bereavement counselor and consultant for grief issues. We reprint her article her in her
memory and with the hopes that others will continue to be healed of grief by the work she did while alive.

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Last updated April 24, 1998
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