How we can cope with loss and grief.

Just Stop: Busy Doesn’t Make You Heal

‘Stay busy,’ I’d been told.  ‘Time will heal your pain.’

Have you ever been given this advice?

If so, you have probably already figured out that staying busy doesn’t help heal your grief.  

I went back to work five days after my husband took his own life.  I had a son to take care of, to worry about, to try to comfort.  I got back into my normal routine as soon as I could.

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Months later, I was still on a mission to stay busy.  After weeks of planning, getting passports, arranging for pet-sitters, my son and I were in Purulhá, Guatemala, staying with friends.  One day during that busy trip,  we found ourselves stuck in the house due to the weather.

All of the sudden, with no place to go and nothing that needed to be done, I just broke down and cried.  I realized that my busyness, my running-as-fast-as-I-could-from-one-place-to-the-next was getting me nowhere when it came to my healing process.

Our Guatemala trip: Monterrico at sunrise.

So if staying busy doesn’t help us get through the grieving process, what does?

Take the time to mourn

To mourn is to feel or express sadness for the death or loss of someone or something.

The first time I sat down to mourn (on purpose) was the anniversary of our marriage.  I pulled out all the romantic cards and pictures from when we dated, and I once again read his wishes for me, and for us, to have a beautiful life together.  I cried over the fact that it didn’t turn out how we planned.

My son sat next to me, because I wanted to communicate with him openly about how I felt and how much I missed his dad.  I wanted to show him that it was okay to be sad and grieve: it wasn’t something to hide or be ashamed of.  And it really helped us both heal a little more.

The ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.
The Ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.

Read: How Making a Memory Book Helped Us Heal

Talk About Your Grief

I’m an introvert at heart, and for a long time I’ve been reserved about anything related to my husband’s death, and my own healing process.   Now, two and a half years later, a strange need to talk about my grief has come over me.

Sunset in Monterrico, Guatemala. Part of our healing process.
Sunset in Monterrico, Guatemala

If you’ve lost someone you love, you may find that talking about your loss, and the feelings you have, brings you some comfort.  But if you aren’t ready to open up and say the words out loud, start with writing them down.

Read more about how healing it can be to open up about our grief: Using Words to Heal Grief

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Part of my busyness at that time was helpful: I didn’t realize it then, but I was in the process of figuring out a new plan, a new future for my son and I.  How would that future look?  Were we going to be okay?

With every positive action we took, (and that included taking the time to grieve and mourn,) we were helping our outlook, and our future.

That trip to Guatemala did help us in many ways: I learned to slow down, and that even though remembering hurt, it was a necessary process.  We met amazing people who stayed positive no matter what challenges they faced, and our horizons were broadened with every new scene.

If you are trying to cope with loss, and soften your grief, then just stop.  Breathe.  Remember.  It may be painful, but with every memory, with every shared story, you can heal a little more.

Guatemala trip: The black sand beaches of Monterrico

Here are a few resources that have helped my son and I.

Let me know your story below.  Share and be heard.



  1. I am sorry for your loss, Mia. You are right. It is OK to take time to grief. You are even allowed to shut the rest of the world out for a while to process your grief and heal. I lost the life that I had built for 16 years. I was in the deep valley for about a year. But, things do get better slowly over time. “To everything there is a season.”

    1. Hi Herlina, I’m sorry for the pain you went through and I’m glad you are doing better now. I know for me, my support group has really helped. And I think, to some extent, with this blog I was ‘widening’ my support group. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. emeraldsky9

    Like the widow in the WT lesson a couple weeks ago said about time being a great healer: “… it is what one does with one’s time that helps one to heal …”

  3. Oh my gosh, I am so so sorry for your loss! I think it’s completely natural to try and stay busy especially for Mom’s because that’s usually the norm for us anyway. Sending virtual hugs!

    1. Thanks so much Kristin! I appreciate the hugs :). Yes – it is our natural tendency to just go go go – but we need to be mindful of our mental health and make time to mourn.

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