Making space for grief

I once knew a woman whose son had died. Her grief was profound and unpredictable, and she was often caught off guard by the intense emotions she experienced. Even a trip to the grocery store could evoke tears.

Over time, she realized that her best strategy was to invite her grief to go along with her wherever she went. “Come on grief,” she would say, “We’re going grocery shopping.” By calling it out  and inviting it along  she learned to move through the world differently with her loss.

In groups, people will sometimes ask how long it takes to feel better, or “get over” a loss. While it is normal to feel better in time, most do not exactly “get over” loss. Instead, they learn to live with loss, to carve out space for it, to let it simply become part of who they are.

Here are some ways to accommodate grief:

  • Expect it. Once my friend started inviting grief along with her, she was less surprised by her grief and more flexible with herself.
  • Take Your Time. When emotions surge, it can be helpful to take a pause. Consider adding a little space between commitments so grief can breathe.
  • Create Space. You could create a memorial corner with a photo of your loved one, a battery-powered candle and items they made, wore or treasured. This space can help create a pocket of quiet in the midst of life, a place to reflect, remember and heal.

Grief support groups (offered via Zoom)

Making Space for Grief
March 20, 7-8 PM CT
We’ll invite members to discuss moments when they have been surprised by grief — as well as ways they have learned to create space for it.

Mind, Body, Spirit Grief Support
Wednesdays in April, 12 – 1 p.m. (April 3,10, 17, 24)
We’ll explore the impact of grief on the mind, body and spirit, as well as what you can do to help ease the process.


Optage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel facilitates grief groups across PHS sites and in the larger community. Jenny is also an author, most recently of Naming The Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death.

If you are interested in joining a group, contact Optage Hospice or call 651-746-8200. Optage is the home and community services division of Presbyterian Homes & Services.



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