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Nurturing Ourselves Through Grief and Loss

Nurturing Ourselves Through Grief and Loss by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

Great joys make us love the world.

Great sadnesses make us understand the world.”

~Kent Nerburn


Over the last few months I have been grieving the loss of my youngest daughter Zoey leaving for college. I just returned from visiting her at University of California Santa Cruz over the weekend and although I am thrilled she has settled beautifully into her new life, tears welled up in my eyes when I said goodbye.


Today I noticed that my heart was heavy, I did not feel well and that my feelings of loss and sadness seemed knit into the texture of my day. This experience reminded me that loss can often trigger old grief we carry, whether the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or even a dream. For me grief around my father’s death, my oldest daughter’s lifetime of chronic health challenges and my aging mother seemed to rise to the surface today. Not only was I missing my daughter and my life as a mother as I have known it, but all of that other grief came flowing in as well.


It is amazing how grief can permeate your experience, like dark ink dropping onto the fabric of your day and can leave you feeling isolated, vulnerable, and unable to interact in your normal activities.


You share a depth of understanding with others when you have experienced a similar loss that opens your heart with profound compassion to those suffering around you and if you allow it can remind you that you are not alone.


What I have found is that there is no more important time for self-nurturing than when you are grieving. And although it is a challenge, it is essential to find gentle ways to care for yourself during these difficult times.


In order to nurture ourselves through grief and loss, start by looking at your self-nurturing practice to see if there are any activities you can continue. Having some connection to your normal schedule can be very grounding in this unsettling time.


If you take a walk each day, meditate or write in a journal try to continue doing so, even if you need to decrease the amount of time you spend. Also bring mindfulness to the choices you make about what to eat. Choosing healthy food filled with nutrients and energy and minimizing food and drink that deplete you is critical at this time.


Then identify a few activities that feel deeply nurturing. Perhaps you find walking in nature, talking to a supportive friend or loved one, petting your animal, reading an inspiring book or appreciating music, art or beauty to be really nourishing. I find walking in nature to be a salve for my grieving heart.


Encourage yourself to engage in these activities a few times during the week and notice how you feel after. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to go out and do anything when you are overwhelmed with grief, but we usually feel better for doing it.


Finally, I invite you to create a way to honor your loss. You can create a letting go ritual, write a love letter to yourself acknowledging the loss with words of compassion and comfort, attend a memorial service, and/ or dedicate some practice in your day to nurturing yourself through the loss. If you are grieving someone’s death, keep their memory alive by telling stories about the person, recounting what you learned from them and how they made a difference in your life.


Most importantly be gentle with yourself during this time of grief and treat yourself with tenderness and compassion. Grieving is a process and nurturing ourselves through it is the kindness and most loving approach. I would be so grateful if you would share how you have nurtured yourself through grief or honored your loss in the comments below.


May you find ways to compassionately nurture yourself through your grief process and continue to nurture peace in the world from the inside out.

Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Leila says:

    Thank you for sharing Kelley
    It’s such a blessing to read such inspiring blog.

  • Krystal says:

    Hi Kelley, This trend for going inside and nurturing oneself is huge right now. The solstice, the moons, the approaching equinox and the midst of the winter water season all seem to be a reminder for us to stay in that nurturing self loving place. Thanks for your words. <3

  • I know for me that the sadness never really goes away but over time I have learned how to step back, sit with it, and then do what needs to be done to continue. Lovely post, as always.

    • I so appreciate your perspective Barb and the wisdom that you create space around yourself when you are feeling sad. I believe our compassion and tenderness are nurturing salve on our broken hearts. Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    Kelley this is beautiful and a wonderful reminder of the different types of grief.
    Yes nature my art and writing are headers fir me also hooking to is where I can loose myself in time too
    Be kind to you xx

    • Thank you so much Suzie! I love your self-nurturing practices of connecting with nature, being creative, and writing. I also find those practices deeply nurturing! Thank you for your comment!

  • During difficult times I typically turn toward music and writing. I find it so therapeutic. I also find going for a walk and sitting out in nature to be very healing. As well as taking a relaxing bath with some soothing oils.

    • I love your self-nurturing practices of music, writing, being in nature and taking a relaxing bath. They are all deeply therapeutic and I am grateful you shared them in your comment!

  • Thank you for being able to identify your feelings, make choices and suggest practices for others as well. ❤️ to you!

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