Steps to Survival

This page provides more steps for surviving the death of a loved one. While some of these may seem like common sense, grief affects everyone in a different way. It is helpful to remind ourselves of some basic steps we can take to get through this difficult time.

Recognize the loss.

For a while you are numb. It has happened. Try not to avoid it.

Be with the plan.

You're hurting. Admit it. To feel pain after loss is normal, proof that you are alive; proof that you are able to respond.

You are not alone.

Loss is part of life. Everyone experiences it.

You are a beautiful, worthwhile person.

You are much more than the emotional wound you are presently feeling.

You will survive.

Believe that you will heal.

Give yourself time to heal.

The greater the loss, the more time it will take.

Healing has progressions and regressions.

Healing and growth are not smooth upward progressions, but full of ups and downs, dramatic leaps and depressing backslides.

Tomorrow will come.

Your life has been full of positive experiences. They will return.

Take good care of you.

Get plenty of rest. Stick to a schedule. Plan your days. Activity will give you a sense of order.

Keep decision-making to a minimum.

Expect your judgment to be clouded for a while. You are going through change. Don't add additional ones.

Seek comforting.

Accept support from others...Seek it. It's human and courageous.

Surround yourself with living things.

A new plant, pet, bowl of fresh fruit.

Re-affirm your beliefs.

Use your faith right now. Explore it. Lean on it. Grow.

Weekends and holidays are the worst.

Schedule activities you particularly enjoy.

Suicidal thoughts.

These may arise. They are a symptom of pain. If you feel they are getting out of control, seek help at once.

Do your mourning now.

Allow yourself to be with your pain. It will soon pass. Postponed grief can return later to haunt you. Grief feelings will be expressed one way or the other.

Be gentle with yourself.

You have suffered a disabling emotional wound. Treat yourself with care.

Let yourself heal completely.

Give yourself time. You are a convalescent right now. Don't jump into new things too quickly.


If these are helpful to you, use them. But if they bind you to a dead past, get rid of them. Before you say hello, you must say goodbye.

Anticipate a positive outcome.

Pain is acceptable. It tells us we are hurting. But, it is not a welcome long-term visitor.

It's OK to feel depressed.

Crying is cleansing...a wonderful release. Be with these feelings for a while.

It's OK to feel anger.

Everyone acts angry at the loss of a loved one. Channel it wisely and it will go away as you heal. Hit a pillow. Kick on a bed. Yell and scream when you are alone. Run, play hard games. Hit a punching bag. Play the piano.


Good eating habits help the healing process.

You're vulnerable.

Your resistance will be low. Invite help only from those who are trustworthy.

Beware of the rebound.

There's a hole. Be careful about rushing to fill it.

Beware of addictive activities.

Alcohol, drugs, food, and diversions can all momentarily help us escape from pain. We can become addicts and these never help us to heal.

Keep a journal.

Putting your thoughts and feelings on paper is a good way to get them out. You can also look back and see just how far you've come.

Heal at your own pace.

Never compare yourself to another grieving person. Each of us has our own time clock.

You will grow.

As you work through your sadness, you will learn you can survive. The pain eventually lessens. Healing does occur.

Give yourself praise.

You are a richer, deeper, wiser person.

Begin to look to the future.

Begin to experiment with new lifestyles, new ways of filling the day. They might even turn out to be fun.

Be open.

Give yourself opportunities to meet new people, places, ideas, and experiences. But don't forget to build on the past. Don't throw out what has been worthwhile to you. Small changes are the best at first.

Begin to give of yourself.

Giving can bring you the greatest joy. It is healing.

Expect relapses.

There will always be certain things that trigger sadness again. This is normal.

Alone does not mean lonely.

Solitude can be creative, restful, and even fun. You can learn to enjoy it.

Enjoy your freedom.

You are now in control. Make the most of your choices. You can even learn to take risks.

Celebrate your survival!


Steps to Survival was developed at St. Petersburg Junior College, Pinellas County, Florida