Grieving Process Newly Widowed


7 Rituals Help You Heal Faster from Grief - The Jolly Widow

Grieving is such an effective and psychologically necessary means to process the loss of a loved one.  Loss of a piece of ourselves.

Real joy isn’t possible until we have taken the plunge into the depths of our own shadow, or the disowned aspects of ourselves.  Only through exploring and marrying various aspects of our “Selfs” in the cradle of sorrow can we truly find hope and joy again.  All of our emotions should be honored, whether they make you feel elated or sad.

Sadness is just another note that enhances the symphony of our emotional spectrum, and reminds us of the beauty of being human.

Therefore, it’s crucial that we honor our need to mourn.  To find a regular ritual, or a tangible expression for our grief.

When I speak of “rituals,” I’m not referring to the ceremonies you engage in under the light of a full moon with animal bone sacrifices by a bonfire.  We all have daily rituals.  Whether it’s grabbing your Venti Hazelnut Skinny Latte before work, or skimming the newspaper at breakfast, or preparing a PB&J sandwich for your kids.

Here are 7 powerful rituals that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you heal faster during grief:

1.    CRYING

7 rituals heal grief crying - the jolly widow

Crying can be one of the most cathartic rituals of grieving.  It’s not only a positive, but a necessary act of releasing, and shedding old layers of yourself that no longer serve you.

Whether we are grieving the loss of a parent, a spouse, a child, a relationship, a job, or something that holds deep sentimental value in our hearts.

By actively engaging in the act of crying, we are consciously and symbolically letting go of this person or thing.  We can offer thanks to the way it has served us in the past, or the lesson(s) this person or situation has taught us.

By being grounded in our body and in the present moment, we can then be more attuned to the subtle feelings we’ve buried within.  That is why it’s important for us to practice mindfulness and self-awareness in our daily lives.  I talk about the importance of these two things in #7.

The moment you feel the urge to cry, just breathe into it.  Support that urge to organically push those emotions to the surface.  Hold the pain with the same gentleness and firmness as you would a crying infant, without any judgment.  Fully feel the feels.  Allow the tears to naturally flow out of you.  Then once you’re ready, release the feelings and thank them for making you feel alive and fully human.

But of course, everybody processes loss in their own way.  Not all of us grieve by shedding tears.  There is nothing wrong with you even if everyone else was crying at the funeral, and you weren’t.  Tears might not come.  Crying may not be the way your body chooses to grieve at this time.  It’s okay.  Just don’t suppress the urge to cry when it does arise.

There are other effective ways to process our psychological and emotional states during times of monumental loss.


7 rituals heal grief support - the jolly widow

One of the other rituals that helped me tremendously shortly after the death of my fiancé was confiding in trusted friends and family members.  Or really, anyone who would listen at the time.  Having a loving support group also made a huge difference.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you need a shoulder to lean on.

The mere act of verbalizing your thoughts about your loss is another powerful way to process your pain.

Don’t be afraid to speak about him or her any time you feel the urge to.

Finding an expression for your grief is a vital step towards healing from it.


7 rituals heal grief journaling - the jolly widow

Journaling is also another cathartic ritual to facilitate our healing process.

Remember, you’re not on a mission to meet a deadline, and you are certainly not writing for someone else.

You are writing for you.

Forced writing is never as therapeutic as responding to your natural urge to write.

That is why I highly suggest free-flowing while you write.  That way you won’t have to worry about syntax, grammar, or spelling.  Just let the words organically flow from your hand onto paper (or the computer screen).

As you write, visualize the pain flowing from your heart to your hands, and onto paper as they solidify into words.

Grieving is a natural and healthy way of processing our emotions after experiencing such a traumatic life event.  We should actively encourage the act of grieving, in ourselves and in others, without judgment.  Learn to channel that grief into creative, and practical endeavors.  Writing is a powerful form of emotional expression and processing.

However, journaling is merely one of the many powerful ways to process our emotions.



7 rituals heal grief earthing - the jolly widow

Try to spend at least an hour a day in nature.  Or even better, practice “earthing,” which is to walk barefooted on the grass.  On an energetic level, earthing helps us reconnect to the womb from which we came.  It not only grounds us in the here and now, but also exchanges our dark clouds for sunshine.  Earthing, or walking barefooted on grass has been an integral factor to my healing process.

You might be thinking: I don’t have time, or I don’t have the energy to go anywhere.  Initially, spending even a mere 30 minutes in nature maybe 3-4 days a week is all you need.  You will gradually want to spend more time in nature once you notice the positive effects it has on your healing process.

Trees are designed by Mother Nature to absorb the toxic energy our bodies emit (i.e. carbon dioxide).  In turn, nature releases back to us disease-fighting essences in the air.  Mountains, forests, grasslands, and beaches are naturally high in negative ions, which naturally eliminates depression and restores balance and vitality to our bodies.

Not only does nature help purify our physical body, but it also helps clear our minds from excessive thoughts that eat up the bulk of our vital energy, which in many cases, is the main cause of our suffering.

Especially during bereavement, when our mind replays memories with our loved ones, like a broken record that just won’t stop.

Many great sages and mystics contribute the preservation of their health and mental sanity to spending time amongst the woods, mountains, the park, or beaches.

David Thoreau wrote, “I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

Of course, not all of us can afford at least four hours a day sauntering in the woods.

There are many easy ways to reap healing benefits from nature – you could practice mindful walking (barefooted, or not).  Deep breathing, jogging. or simply sitting on a bench and bringing your attention to the present moment.  Do yoga on the grass, smell the flowers, hug a tree (seriously), listen to the birds sing, observe how the trees sway in the wind.


If your work already involves a certain amount of physical activity, that doesn’t count.  Moving your body for therapeutic purposes is very different from stress-filled activities that we are required to engage in on a daily basis.

I’m referring to moving your body for tension release and pure enjoyment, in a safe and private space.  Examples are ecstatic dancing, jogging, yoga, cycling, drumming, boxing, yelling, screaming.  Or simply move in any way that feels the most intuitive for you.

The more you consciously engage in physical movement for the purpose of pure self-enjoyment, the easier it is for your body to dispel trapped, unprocessed emotions.

The one activity you should stay away from at this time though, is sex.  Regardless of what some might think, this is not an ideal time for you to engage in sexual activity with anyone.  There are many reasons why – I go in depth about it here.


7 rituals heal grief music - the jolly widow

Although if you are experiencing the initial stages of grief, you may be too lethargic to want to move.  In that case, don’t force yourself until you are ready.  In the meantime, try listening to some nature sounds or solfeggio frequencies. Solfeggio frequencies are healing sounds that help restore our vibrational balance.  It’s an easy and effortless healing modality to incorporate into your daily routine.

The 528 Hz is known as the frequency of love, particular to healing and balancing your heart chakra, which is essential during times of loss.  I used to listen to the 528 Hz every night while sleeping.  And I can say, it did its job.



7 rituals heal grief meditation - the jolly widow

The simplest way for anyone to practice mindfulness meditation is: to focus on doing one thing at a time.  Focus on fully being absorbed in this task regardless of what you are doing.  Or simply practice “being” in the present moment, instead of “doing”. This ritual allows us to get back in touch with our body, our inner world.

Mindfulness meditation grounds us back into our body, back into the present moment.  It also forces us to engage our five senses, which gradually increases our alertness overtime.

By practicing mindfulness meditation, we are making space in our body and mind to allow any unprocessed grief to come into the light. 

This particular ritual allows us to observe our thoughts and emotions from a detached manner.  It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not our emotions. And we are not our thoughts.  Our thoughts and emotions are only tiny facets in the composition of our entire being.  Only in rediscovering our true authentic self by going inward can we truly find peace.

To practice mindfulness meditation: turn your attention towards your breath.  Be mindful of your breathing.  Notice how your lung expands as you breathe in, and how it contracts as you breathe out.  Eyes open or closed is up to you.

Try to maintain your breath for 4 seconds while breathing in.  Holding the air in your lungs for a couple of seconds.  And another 4 for breathing out.

During meditation, you might feel the urge to cry at times.  This is a perfect opportunity to let those tears flow to the surface.  Don’t hold back.

Even if you’re only able to practice this ritual for 5 minutes daily, you are already one step closer to healing.

The more you practice bringing attention within, the easier it would be for peace to naturally, and effortless arise.  The relentless thoughts and emotions that haunt your mind will slowly dissolve.

So, whether it’s journaling, crying, verbal expression, spending time in nature, moving your body in ways that purifies and excites you.  Or being in a meditative state and carrying that energy with you into your day-to-day activities by practicing mindfulness.  Incorporating even just one of these cathartic rituals into your daily routine will help accelerate your healing process.  You will discover the arising of a sense of profound peace.

But we all grieve in our own way.  There isn’t one method that is better than another.  You can choose to incorporate these rituals into your daily routine, or not.  These are merely suggestions that has worked for me.

Was there a particular ritual that has helped you overcome some of the toughest times during grief?  Feel free to share it with other fellow widows and widowers in the comment section below.

7 Rituals Heal Grief - The Jolly Widow (1)


  1. Hi Nancy, I don’t actually feel as though I want to heal faster, I feel as though I must experience fully the guilt and the remorse and the regret that I did not look after my husband better before he died and that in life I was disloyal and childish, how much more clearly I see now I could have alleviated his suffering and my own. I was touched by your personal story and I want so much to believe in the things that you say about communication with loved ones that have died. Looking back there were moments and hopefully still will be, that I thought my husband was communicating with me and yet I still cannot quite believe that it wasn’t simply a pure act of nature, it would be so much more comforting to believe, I have always wanted to. He has not yet though come to me in my dreams and so I imagine that he is angry with me because he has come to others in a loving way.

    1. Hi Julia,

      I’m not sure what exactly occurred between you and your husband while he was still here. But often times our human mind has a tendency to put the deceased on a pedestal after they have passed because our mind believes that we will never see them again. And we begin to blame ourselves for the “should have,” and “could have’s”, but there are no mistakes in the Divine planning and timing of every single occurrence in life. I understand that you might have convinced yourself that you need to suffer this pain in order to “repent” for your perceived “wrong-doings” at the time that he was alive. However, please know that your “acting out” against him at the most crucial time he needed support was probably all part of the role that you were designed to play in that particular moment, and on this grander scale of a Divine theatre of life. You might think me cruel for saying this, but we are only actors playing out various characters in life. It’s almost as if we’d forgotten that we are only visitors on this Earthly school – here to learn certain soul lessons through the various dramas we have chosen to participate in before being “born” into our current life, with our soul family. Although I cannot attest to “life after death” for certain, there are many who have experienced “lives between lives,” and even those who remember their “past lives.” For more research on this topic, I suggest reading, “Journey of Souls” by Michael Newton, and “Your Soul’s Plan” by Robert Schwartz.

      And I assume that you and your husband have most likely experienced many past lifetimes together, and he is probably not far from you. Please trust that those moments that you thought your husband was communicating was not from your imagination, they were real. My guess is that your grief might be energetically blocking him, and often times, when we have certain expectations on “how” our loved ones reach out to us, we will miss the actual signs that they send us because they don’t fit into the particular expectations that we have mentally set. The best way to receive signs from Spirit is to be open, and to let go of all expectations on the “how,” and “when.” You will most likely experience the signs as instinctual, gut feelings. Please don’t let your rational mind convince you otherwise. If you even have an inkling that a certain thing might be a sign, it most likely is. Hope this helps!

  2. Thank you Nancy and Julia for sharing your stories, pain, and work toward healing. I am comforted by dreaming with the love of my life (Phil) who surprisingly passed two months ago. It is the only way I consider myself to spend time with him, but I don’t dream with him enough. I hope that Julia has forgiven herself and has allowed herself to let him into her dreams. I am sure he wants to be there with her.
    My love went to work the day before, got sick over night and before 5pm the next day was shockingly gone. He died from Septic shock but hasn’t had any real symptoms of infection before it took over him. I remember telling him in the hospital that all would be fine, that he just needed fluids (that he never received) and him gently telling me “no, it’s not going to be okay”. Those words played over and over as I know day after day that that time, he was right. I have to laugh to myself as I cry and write this thinking to myself or to him, “okay you had to give yourself before going”. When I don’t know what to do with myself and am overwhelmed nearly daily by the intense pain that this brings, I look to the web to read about how other women are coping and look for hope. I am in my late thirties with three kids and have to keep going for them. I remain in love with my husband and truly only had eyes for him. While that sounds great it also means that I feel like I could never even look at another man let alone try to be with one. Monogamy came easy to me because I was so content and in love for years. I was with him since I was sixteen years old and considered him my forever love. This along with losing him makes me feel like so much of my life is over. My kids will get their own lives and I may just stay stuck in this pain. The thought of that eternal missery instead of the life with him that I feel I was supposed to have is terrifying. Understand that this only means that no matter how the marriage was or what took part, none of us feel better, it feels horrible and hopeless regardless, as we try to figure out what now? What more could I have done? Could I have saved him? Will I live in eternal pain? A million and one questions with no answers and one area or another that we will feel some level of guilt or hopelessness for because nothing and no one is perfect. The only thing certain is that all of those feelings come from one place LOVE and the longing for and MISSING of our loves. God bless all of those who have felt or still feel my pain. It is indescribable and I hope that more continue to share their stories. People like me are looking for them. It helps to know that I am not alone. For anyone who reads this because they sought hope or a sense of needing to hear from others who understand, you are not alone.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story Jen, I know it’s tough having to bear the pain of losing your first love/life partner while also having to care for your three kids. You are certainly not alone. It may seem like the pain you feel for your husband is the only thing that remains of him and you want to hold on to that because you don’t want to let go of any representations of him. But it would not benefit you, or your kids to try to hold on to that pain and the grief. I hope you can find a trusted counselor to help you alleviate some of the pain. Take good care.

  3. Can I add one? Putting a photo of your loved one in a special place, lighting a candle and incense (safely–don’t accidentally ignite the photo) daily, and taking a moment at that time to say a prayer or journal or meditate or read (maybe even out loud) something of spiritual significance, can be profoundly helpful, and if it’s first thing in the morning, can help with just being able to get out of bed. I actually also make coffee for my loved ones who have died–I bring them coffee as part of doing this whole morning ritual. It’s a way of expressing tenderness and devotion and letting them know that they are remembered and missed. I also like to put out flowers for them occasionally and, when we make cookies or cake, I put a cookie or slice of cake out for them along with the coffee. It just feels cozy and down to earth. I also sometimes go for a walk and burn a cigarette for my husband (I don’t smoke and he didn’t smoke cigarettes, he preferred cigars, but I’ve found a cigarette will keep burning on its own without someone dragging air through it, but I don’t think a cigar will, so I’m compromising).

    And actually one more–talking to the departed is a lovely and helpful thing to do. Out loud. I do a lot of talking in the car. My husband does reply, I can’t always quite hear his reply, but when I do, it’s as if the words are appearing off to my right at about heart level, as if I were hearing him with my heart. Once I had a visual image appear that way–I wasn’t seeing it but it was like my heart was seeing it (it was him aggressively not saying anything about my driving, just shaking his head, after I slammed on the brakes one day). Sometimes I’ll just pat the empty seat in the car next to me, because we sometimes did that in the car, just would pat each other now and then. In movies and on tv it seems like people always go to a grave to talk to the departed, but I think it feels cozier to just do so all the time during daily life–but either way, I think it’s a nice thing to make a habit of.

    1. That is beautiful, thank you for sharing your experiences with us Bonnie. And yes, incorporating rituals and simply enjoying small moments in life are lovely ways to bring comfort.

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