Losing a loved one is one of the hardest and most stressful experiences a person can go through. Grief affects everybody differently – and there are many potential ways to process that grief. Unfortunately, not all of those methods are healthy.

So what steps can you take to process grief in a healthy way without losing touch with your emotions or your sense of individuality?

Remember Your Loved One

Your end goal in processing grief should be returning to your normal life, whatever that happens to look like. These investments and actions can provide solid footing for you as you gradually come to terms with this passing.

  • Mementos. Mementos and keepsakes have practically unlimited staying power, giving you the opportunity to create and keep items that ensure the memories of your loved one are never far. Modern mementos and keepsakes can be made from the ashes of your loved one, giving them new significance and meaning. Depending on your preferences, you can use these as decorations, jewelry, or reminders that you carry on your person indefinitely. In any case, having something tangible to remind you of your loved one is an excellent way to continue processing your feelings as you slowly return to your normal life.
  • A ceremony. It's also a good idea to have some sort of ceremony or ritual. That doesn't necessarily mean planning a traditional funeral; depending on the wishes of the loved one who passed and your relationship and feelings toward them, you could also host a celebration of life or scatter this person's ashes at their favorite location.
  • Photos and videos. Spend some time going through old photos and videos, whenever you're emotionally ready to do so. This action can help you spark old memories, come to terms with your feelings about this person, and find a path forward.
  • Journaling/writing. Finally, spend some time journaling and writing about your favorite memories with this loved one. Your writings are artifacts that you can keep indefinitely – and turn to them whenever you want to be reminded of the memories you've shared.

Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is critical for processing grief. You're likely going to experience some negative and overwhelming feelings, but you won't be able to cope with these if your body or mind aren't adequately cared for. Even if you find it difficult to sleep, try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Even if you don't feel like eating or drinking, make sure you get plenty of water and food throughout the day. Make time for exercise if you can, and don't be afraid to ask other people in your life for help when you need it. If you don't take good care of yourself, you're going to delay your recovery.

Take Some Time Off

Consider taking some time off, especially if you have a stressful or demanding job. For some people, work is a healthy distraction that allows them to take their mind off the recent passing. But for most people, it's too much of a responsibility to take on too soon. Even if you only take a few days off, you can use that time to process your feelings and get to the other side of your grief.

Get Creative

Another healthy strategy for coping with grief is applying yourself creatively. Depending on your current skills and interests, that could mean writing and playing music, making sculptures, painting, practicing creative writing, or even making short films. Creative expression allows you to get in touch with even your most abstract feelings and process them in a somewhat tangible way.

Spend Time With Loved Ones

Grief is much easier to navigate when you're surrounded by loved ones – even if you're typically satisfied with being alone. There's nothing wrong with getting at least some alone time to process your feelings, but you should also go out of your way to spend time with the people you love, especially if those people also shared a bond with the person who recently passed.

Attend Support Groups

A quick search should introduce you to various support groups in your area that are designed to help people like you cope with your grief. Support groups are usually free and semi-anonymous, and they tend to be very welcoming to the people who need them. You don't have to attend this support group forever, and even a single attendance session could make an impact on you, so there's no risk in going.

Seek Professional Support

If you've tried all the strategies in this list and you're still having trouble coping with your grief, it may be time to seek some professional support. Attending therapy sessions with a psychological professional could introduce you to new coping strategies, or help you clarify your feelings in new ways.

Coping with grief is always difficult, but it doesn't have to consume you or overwhelm the rest of your life. With these healthy coping and recovering strategies, you can better understand the roots of your emotions and eventually get back to healthy, normal living.