5 Practical (and Less Obvious) Ways to Deal With Grief

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Ngaio Parr is no stranger to grief.

Having experience the death of four family members over four years, she’s found that grief isn’t just a visitor, but rather a new roommate that stays with you, showing up at intervals.

But she’s here to help.

Through her darkest moments, Ngaio found ways of dealing with grief that she thought would benefit others going through those similar moments. And so, she created The Grief Companion.

Think conversation cards, but each one provides gentle guidance, support, and knowledge for those navigating loss and grief.

“I wish The Grief Companion had existed when I needed it most,” Ngaio tells POPSUGAR AU.

“In the span of four years, I made it through the deaths of four close family members, one of whom was my father, my true mirror. Everyone grieves in their own way, but as a perfectionist, I approached the process as I would any other problem that needed solving, soaking in everything I could, and distilling it down into the most useful crystals of knowledge.

“I wanted to do it right. I read every memoir and self-help book (even though my attention span was shot), listened to all the podcasts about loss, and asked trusted wise friends, grief professionals, and internet strangers for advice. Some of it resonated, some of it didn’t — and I had to comb through a lot to get the most helpful nuggets.”

We’re so grateful she did. Not only has she come out the other side as a stronger person, but she’s created a Grief Companion to accompany us all, might we need it (you can buy it here).

She’s also given us a starting point. According to Ngaio, in the initial stages of grief, it’s all about the basics. 

Here are five practical ways to navigate grief:

Find a Support Person

During the first few days and weeks, grief can feel more akin to shock than grief. If you can, ask someone you trust and can be honest with to be your support person during this time. 

Keep on Top of Your Sleep Hygiene

Many people have trouble sleeping while experiencing sharp grief. Set yourself up for the best possible chance for sleep by creating a calm sleep routine. 

Keep your bedroom clean and cool (18°C/65°F), place your phone in another room, turn all media off at least one hour before sleep and do something calming beforehand, like taking a bath, doing a skincare routine, reading or meditating. Sleep stories and sleep-assistance meditations can also help quieten emotions and create a calmer frame of mind to entice sleep. 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself: if you can’t get to sleep, do some stretches, read a book, get up for a little walk and try again later. 

Write a Feel-Good List

Prepare yourself with a ‘Feel-good list’ for when you need a bit of joy but don’t have the bandwidth to think of what to do.

Create a list of things that bring you comfort and make sure you can access it anywhere — write it in your phone or take a photo of a handwritten list. Try to keep the majority of the list on the feel-good and constructive side (like fresh sheets or listening to a particular song) instead of feel-good and destructive (like eat a litre of ice cream or sleeping all day).

Make sure they range from quick and easy (standing in the sun) to long and leisurely (going for a big walk or re-watching your favourite tv show).  

Seek Professional Help

If you are financially able, get professional support

First up, find someone who you can discuss your grief with — a psychologist or even a great general practitioner. Even if you think you’re grieving ‘normally’, there isn’t really a downside to talking to someone who is there to listen. 

Depending on the situation, other help might be just as valuable too. An accountant, additional childcare or a cleaner could make all the difference to your mental health.

Find Shared Joy

Doing something you shared together can be difficult at first, but the joy and connection it brings over time are often worth the uncomfortable push to start again. 

Do something that you both found joy in. Did you both like cooking? Make a dish they would love. Did you both love the outdoors? Go for a hike. Were you both into mystery novels? Start a new book from your favourite series.

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