Nature & Grief: Finding Peace in Nature After Losing a Loved One
When we lose someone we love, our whole world can standstill. It's normal to be withdrawn, to find yourself spending more time on the couch or in bed, trying to wrestle with grief.
While you definitely need time to fall apart on the couch, many people also find it helpful to take steps to move along the healing process as soon as possible. Those steps can be baby steps, too-- that's okay!
There's plenty of evidence that one of the best ways to start moving through your grief is to get outside of your home and into the sunshine... even if you're simply taking a few steps into your own backyard.
Let's take a look at how to find peace in nature to start processing and healing from grief after losing someone you love.
Plant a Garden With Their Favorite Flowers
After losing someone, it's common to want to have something that reminds you of the passed individual. It helps us keep their memory alive, and it can help us feel closer to them.
Planting a garden (or even just getting a potted plant!) with their favorite flowers is a beautiful, positive way to honor and remember them.
Did your loved one love the smell of gardenias, or did you have ferns or dahlias in your wedding bouquet? Consider planting some. Keep in mind that smell is actually our most powerful sense, and it can trigger strong emotional memories.
Hang Windchimes In Their Honor
The people we love never truly leave us, even after they’ve passed. Like wind, you can feel them, even if you can’t see them.
Windchimes are a great way to honor your loved one, and they can be helpful for the healing process, too. You can even create personalized wind chimes with their favorite quote or prayer, an inside joke between the two of you, or something that brings you peace.
The soft, soothing sound can help you be more mindful (which is the practice of intentionally focusing on the sounds, sights, and feel of something tangible you're experiencing without judgment). This gives you something to focus on, which can help with both anxiety and depression that may come alongside grief. This can help you relax in nature and may even help you feel more connected to the person you lost.
Go for Long Walks In Beautiful Places
Exercise (even light exercise, like a leisurely stroll) can go a long way in helping you with your grief.
Daily walks in a place that you're comfortable-- whether that's around your neighborhood or in a favorite state park-- can help give you some much-needed structure and keep you active. Both of these things can be good for your physical and mental health.
Getting some sunshine while you're walking can also help you a great deal, and a chance of scenery is good, too. All of this can help you get the endorphins going, which can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress stemming from grief.
Keep in mind that you don't have to walk alone! You can ask a neighbor or even ask around in your Facebook community group. There are also typically plenty of Meetup groups specifically designed to get together and socialize while walking.
Engage in Mindfulness
Being outside in nature gives you a lot to focus on. You can feel the rays of the sun warming your face, hear the sound of bees buzzing, and watch trees swaying in the wind. Even staring at the clouds, watching them shift and trying to make out shapes, can take your mind off things for a minute.
Mindfulness, as we mentioned above, is the practice of being intentionally aware of your surroundings. Nature is outstanding for that, because everything is in motion and there's so much to take in.
When you're feeling significant anxiety, depression, anger, or loneliness while grieving, see if mindfulness helps. Sit outside, and run your fingers over the petals of a flower, or observe how the blades of grass have a single line that folds it over.
All you need to do is to be present and experience what's around you. This can be a relief when you've lost someone, and it can help you start to put the pieces back together.
Grief is an unspeakably difficult thing to experience, so finding small, easy-to-access actions you can take to help you move through the process can be everything. Take some time to consider what activities in nature might benefit you most, and try to take one small step to get out in the sun today, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Grieving a loved one is a difficult process, and we know that better than anyone. Subscribe to our blog for more tips on coping with grief.