How to grieve well

Our journey through life may be unique, but we are all united by death and grief. So, what can we do to weather the loss? Grief psychotherapist, Julia Samuel, shares her views with Martha Roberts


How to grieve well

1. Understand the grief paradox

When you’re grieving, it’s natural to want to avoid things – whether it’s songs, scents or people. But confronting them enables us to heal. ‘The paradox of grief is that finding a way to live with the pain is what enables us to heal,’ says Samuel. Alternating between letting go (with distraction and soothing activities) and holding on, helps us to adjust to the reality of death.

2. Use the anger ‘package’

Anger is a well-recognised response to death. Repressing it can lead to depression, but venting it can result in greater anger, rather than release. Practise the following hour-long anger management ‘package’ frequently:

  • 10 minutes of journal writing
  • 20 minutes of running
  • 10 minutes of meditating
  • 20 minutes of watching or reading something funny

3. The light at the end of the tunnel

Research has shown that while loss can cause post-traumatic stress, it can also lead to post-traumatic growth – greater resilience – in some people. In her book, Samuel says suffering changed these people’s views of what mattered most, resulting in deeper relationships and more wisdom and compassion.

Julia Samuel is author of Grief Works (Penguin, £14.99)

Photograph: iStock

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