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Self Care for the Bereaved
By Maureen Kramlinger

Physical Care

  • Eat healthy foods: bread and whole grains, vegetables & and fruit, meat, milk and dairy products. Avoid junk foods.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: water and juices—8 glasses a day for hydration and eliminating wastes.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They can cause dehydration, headaches, and low back pain. Alcohol steals vitamins, decreases circulation, can cause heart fluttering and can act as a depressant.


  • Can help clear your mind and improve concentration.
  • Generates a feeling of accomplishment and control.
  • Releases chemicals to promote a sense of well-being.
  • Increases energy and enhances the body's ability to fight disease.
  • Strengthens the heart muscle and improves flexibility.
  • Helps control weight and improves muscle tone and appearance, which helps to improve self image.
  • Promotes better sleep at night, as muscles relax after exercise.
  • Reorganizes and redirects static energy to help you feel more calm.

Exercise works best when done out of doors, and early in the evening, if possible.

Sleep and Rest

  • Avoid caffeine, heavy foods and major mental or physical tasks before bedtime.
  • Avoid violent TV programs late at night.
  • Avoid over-use of habit-forming tranquilizers and barbiturates.
  • Relax before bed by taking a bubble bath.
  • Encourage your mind to let go of your day.
  • Practice relaxation by tensing/releasing muscles from toes upward to the top of your head.
  • Listen to a meditation, relaxation or guided imagery tape.

Mental Care

  • Affirm to yourself that you are OK—hurting, but OK. Loss is the problem, not you!
  • Notice what's on your mind, on the surface. Then notice what surfaces next.
  • Keep a notebook to release thoughts that weigh on you.
  • Put things like keys and paperwork in the same place so you can find them.
  • Make lists of things to do.
  • Lower your expectations about how much you can do and how soon.
  • Expect that you will not be able to concentrate, make decisions and/or remember things as well as usual.

Emotional Care

  • Write e-mails, letters and poetry. Write in a journal. Record your feelings on tape.
  • Talk with others about how you feel to help release bottled-up feelings and tension. Join a bereavement support group.
  • Laugh. Grief is serious, but not always solemn. Laughter discharges grief energy.
  • Read books, articles and poetry written by others who know about loss.
  • Phone a compassionate, supportive, cheerful friend.

Spiritual Care

  • Admit when you need help and accept help. You need to do this yourself, but not do it alone.
  • Share your spiritual questions and concerns with another who will understand and accept you.

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