How to Start Healing During a Season of Grief

There is no singular way to respond to heartache or sorrow. Find the strategy that works best for you.


By Christina Caron

We are all grieving right now.

Perhaps you’re one of the millions who has lost a loved one to the brutalities of Covid-19, or maybe you’re grieving another kind of loss: missed time with family and friends, a postponed wedding, a former job. Many of us have also grieved circumstances or deaths unrelated to the coronavirus — each made even more difficult in the context of a pandemic.

Every loss deserves to be acknowledged and addressed. So we gathered advice from bereavement experts and asked people who have recently experienced grief to tell us how they are finding peace.

There are a wide variety of strategies. But it’s important to acknowledge that many people “don’t have the luxury of attending fully to grief and mourning,” said Therese A. Rando, the clinical director of the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss in Warwick, R.I. “That’s one of the most insidious things about the pandemic.”

If you’re running on adrenaline and still living in survival mode, start small and see if one of the methods below might be helpful to you, too.

Lean on your virtual community

“In initial stages of bereavement, many grievers find the most helpful resource to be other supportive people,” said Sherry Cormier, a psychologist and bereavement trauma specialist in Edgewater, Md. “This is because grief can feel like abandonment, and because it can feel isolating.”

Finding this kind of support in person can be a challenge during the pandemic, but video chats with helpful friends or family are often useful substitutes for get-togethers, she added.

Online resources like Grieving.com and Grief Healing Discussion Groups offer moderated group discussion forums, and the websites National Covid-19 Day and Modern Loss have additional resources for people who need support.

What people tend to find most helpful during the grieving process is “acknowledgment, and an ongoing invitation to share their experiences,” said Rebecca Soffer, the co-founder and chief executive of Modern Loss. “This has become all the more urgent as grieving people have had to endure the process in relative isolation for more than a year.”

Online religious services can also provide a sense of community.

Elizabeth Sanford, 58, who lives in Atlanta, said she started listening to the morning prayers of a monastery in Cumbria, England, a few months after her father died and the country went into lockdown. She watches nearly every morning on Facebook Live at 3 a.m., which is when she now tends to wake up.

“It’s like getting a hug,” she said. “The bells ring. The guided imagery helps me cry. The prayers bring peace.”

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