3 Ways To Ease Your Grief

On any given day, loss can sneak up on you and grief takes over.  And what do you do when that happens?

In this week’s video, I discuss how grief can feel like an internal car accident. You may look fine on the outside. But inside you may feel as though you’ve broken your arms and legs.

If that had actually happened, you’d be in a hospital resting, healing and receiving medical attention. The same must occur if you’re grieving. You must take exquisite care of yourself and find the care and support you need to heal.

Recently, in one week, I lost two very wise women in my circle of inspiring friends, Trudy Taylor, 92 and Olga Hirschhorn, 95.

Nancy Aronie, the brilliant writer and Chilmark Writing Workshop founder, reminds us, “when you find a woman in your life who is just a few years older than you and has experience, it’s life-changing. You want to grab every bit of wisdom from her.”

That’s how I strongly I felt about Trudy and Olga. They were life-changers. I soaked up every bit of their wisdom, knowledge, and humor. And now that they are gone, the void hurts. I tear up at even the mention of their names.

This is not the first time I’ve lost someone precious to me in my life. And I imagined you’ve had your share of losses, too.

With each loss, we face a new grieving process we must lean into.

From experience, here are three strategies that have helped me and my coaching clients:

I hope you’ve found even just one of these strategies helpful as you heal from any of your own losses.

“Joy shared is doubled; grief shared is halved” is sweet relief that you may find comfort here in sharing your own road to healing from grief.


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P.S. If you are in the New York City area, BookTheWriter is hosting a Women on Fire evening and workshop, 7:30-9:30PM Tuesday, November 3 for 20 women at a private home. Cost is $40. Only a few seats remain. Check out details and registration here. I hope to see you there!

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Perfect Parking Spots

Guest post by EMILY NEAL

Sometimes life gets so chaotic that it’s hard to find a moment’s peace.

Yet, opportunities to slow down and relax often present themselves in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. With a little concentration and awareness, you can almost always find your moment of peace.

Recently, Debbie and I were making a few quick errands in Oak Bluffs. While Debbie drove around and calmly continued talking to me I began worrying that maybe these errands wouldn’t be quite so quick as we drove through throngs of jaywalkers with no parking space in sight.

I hoped and prayed someone would pull out and give us their spot. I’m known among my friends to have very good luck with parking spots, but Debbie’s luck is uncanny. In fact, it’s miraculous.

Just as I was preparing myself for a good hike to the store, a spot opened up. Not only was this spot right in front of the store, but when we looked up, there was a sign that read “Phillips.”
Debbie pulled right into a perfect parking space at Phillips Hardware in Oak Bluffs!

Debbie smiled and said, “Thank you, Dad.” She then told me that since his death she has always been blessed with the miracle and gift of the perfect parking spot.

Though our loved ones may leave us, often they do not leave us empty-handed. They frequently pass down little miracles of peace to help us through our grief.

Woman on Fire Debi Lilly suddenly lost her father-in-law last August while alone in Paris with her children. To honor him and connect with family back home, they walked to every church in Paris to light a candle for Grandpa Carl.

Now, whenever church bells ring, her children look up and say “Grandpa Carl.” Debi often goes out of her way to find the comforting chimes of church bells.

Debi Lilly’s children Lilly and Parker in a Parisian cathedral. 

Wendi Knox experienced a miracle similar to mine after her father’s death. She said  “the first morning after he passed away, a beautiful little hummingbird fluttered onto my mother’s cement patio. There were no flowers around. Just me.”

Since then, she has encountered hummingbirds at some of her most important moments this past year without him. While meditating before a speech in front of 400 women, two hummingbirds flew by, certainly a sign of father’s love and encouragement.

Wendi has found solace in visiting a small hummingbird sanctuary consisting of one huge red bottlebrush tree with dozens of hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. She has deemed her small place of refuge as “The Hummingbird Hotel.”

While Debbie, Debi, and Wendi were lucky enough to be given these little reminders, I have not been left with any. I have had to find my own way to relax. You, too, can find an escape from your chaotic life simply by going to your own “peaceful, happy place.” Whether you have faced a terrible loss or not, Wendi offers 5 TIPS for finding your inner peace.

  1.  Check in with your feelings.  Give yourself permission to feel.
  2.  Where’s your happy place? Close your eyes and imagine a place of pure joy.
  3.  How to “get there.” Picture yourself in that place with all the colors, textures, sounds, and smells of the place.
  4.  A trip to remember. When things go wrong, take yourself to your happy place.
  5.  Collect some souvenirs. Keep things around to remind yourself of your place. For example, if your place is the beach, keep a seashell on your desk.

Just as Wendi’s Dad left her with the gift of hummingbirds to inspire her sense of peace, Debbie’s dad left her the perfect spot and Debi the sound of church bells. They were left with these little miracles to remind us to slow down and live the life they are in.  Still, you can find peace no matter where you are in life. All it takes is to find your little place of happiness.

Happiness can be found anywhere, whether it is by walking to “The Hummingbird Hotel” or feeling the success of the perfect spot.

Personally, I close my eyes and picture myself lying on a sandy beach and reading the book that has been waiting for me on my nightstand. I slowly breathe in the salty air and imagine the crashing of ocean waves.

Reading at the beach during my summer internship on Martha’s Vineyard

Your place may be entirely different or very similar. It doesn’t matter as long as it makes you happy. And do you want to know the best part? There’s no limit on your happy places! You can have one or one hundred, as long as you find peace.

I’d love to hear how you find peace and happiness. Do you have a “happy place” similar to Wendi’s? Or, an audible reminder like Debi’s? Or something else that reminds you to slow down?



Emily Neal is an intern at Women on Fire®. A native of Greenville, SC, she will be a sophomore this fall at Vanderbilt University majoring in communications. Her favorite part of her job is meeting all the other Women on Fire and hearing their stories.