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Living with loss: Ways to help you grieve a death

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Everyone deals with grief differently. You can use these healing rituals to help you grieve a death.

Healing rituals

A ritual is not intended to put the loss away or to “get over it,” but to do something meaningful to help you feel better. Rituals can be a healthy way to remember someone you loved and lost. Some different healing rituals include:

  • Memory box: gather up ticket stubs, photos and other mementos that remind you of the person you lost. Try writing a letter to that person and add it to the box. Open the box to help remind you of all the great times you shared and the joy they brought to your life.
  • Collage: collect your favourite photos of the person you lost and add them to a poster board or online photo album. If you don’t have a lot of pictures, try asking family members, friends or other people who knew the person you lost and make the collage or album together
  • Healing circle: ask a group of people who knew the person you lost to sit in a circle and talk about your grief. Share your favourite memories. Talk about the things you miss doing with that person. Knowing that you’re not alone in your grief may help everyone.


Writing can be a great way to explore your feelings, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of different things at once. Some sentences that may help you get started are:

  • The funniest thing you ever said to me was…
  • The last movie we saw together was…
  • Your favourite colour/smell/song was…
  • We had a lot in common like…
  • Things we didn’t have in common were…
  • I learned from you that…
  • I think you learned from me that…
  • The saddest thing about losing you is…
  • The thing I miss most about you is…
  • The last time I saw you…
  • The nicest thing you ever did for me was…
  • The hardest we ever laughed was…


For some people, prayer can be healing after experiencing a loss. If prayer isn’t something you believe in, there are other ways of being spiritual that may work for you like meditation, spending time in nature or sitting in quiet reflection.


A funeral is a formal gathering of friends and family that usually happens a few days after someone has died. What happens in a funeral depends on the cultural and religious traditions of the family, but all funerals are a way of remembering the person who has died and marking their passing.

Funerals allow friends and family to share their memories and feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Funerals can be sad occasions, but it’s OK to laugh and smile, especially over a fond memory.

Losing a pet

Losing a dog, cat or other pet can hurt just as much as losing a person. Some ideas for how you can deal with your grief are:

  • have a pet memorial
  • make a photo collage
  • write a poem about your pet
  • keep the tags from your pet’s collar and put them on your key chain
  • talk to someone you trust. You can always call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

Living with the loss

The loss you’re experiencing now may change you. You may never get over the loss completely, but eventually, you will start to feel better. Take your time and be patient with yourself. Some days will be rough, but grief will get better over time. That doesn’t mean you’ll stop thinking about the person you lost, but you can learn how to cope with your grief so it doesn’t consume your whole life.

Take care of yourself

When you’re grieving, it can be tempting to numb your pain in unhealthy ways. Healthy ways to take care of yourself include:

  • eating nutritious foods and not skipping meals
  • getting enough sleep at night
  • getting enough exercise
  • sticking to a routine
  • spending time with friends

Getting help

Remember you are not alone. Try not to shut out the people who care about you, even if they don’t understand. Spend time with others who are experiencing the loss. Hang out with friends who can help you think about something else for a while.

If you feel trapped or stuck in your grief, be aware of the signs of depression.

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