Many who grieve find it difficult to express how they are feeling. As time passes, the opportunity to talk about their deceased loved one becomes less frequent whilst inside them the need to talk continues. Finding outlets for the feelings, and a way to communicate their experience to others, can be beneficial to the process of grief, and enable others to talk with them more openly. Here are some forms of grief expression:


Not all of us are artistic, we may say, but what is art but expression? In my experience, art and using colour can enable expression of feeling where words cannot . Don’t be afraid to try painting your feelings; you may find the outcome very rewarding emotionally.

Model Making

Using clay or dough to mould and create can be a great way of getting out anger. Moulding is a physical thing and throwing dough or clay and kneading it can be useful in enabling anger to work out.

Working With Fabrics

Collage and creating new things from old in memory of your loved one can also enable the expression of grief. One of my clients used some of her child’s favourite clothing to create a teddy bear. Whilst she worked on the bear, she was able to talk to family and friends about the memories that the items being used evoked. Afterwards, the bear sat alongside a photograph and became the focus of many conversations and an easy way of enabling others to talk about the loved one.


If you have a garden, the planting of an area specifically to the memory of your loved one can become a treasured place for years to come. One of my clients built a little pond/water feature in the garden. This attracted wildlife and became a focal point where she and her family were able to remember. If you don’t have a garden, planting bulbs in public woodland or a tree (with permission from your local authority) can be a public memorial to your child.


Many use Web sites like this one and gain enormous support from the acknowledgement and sharing with others. Write about your experiences, or write poetry, or keep a diary. Memory books are particularly useful in enabling family and friends to share. Some families keep memory boxes alongside of the book with favourite possessions, videos and photos. Leaving the memory book on display may help enable others to talk to you and in turn you to them.

Fund Raising

There are many organisations that will welcome help and support and if you wish to help raise money for a specific charity or hospital. You can do this in your loved one’s memory.

Celebrations, Memory Days, Special Family Events

These can be very hard emotionally, and as a special day approaches, grieving families may fear the day. This is normal. Special days are often sad as they are another confirmation of the empty space left by the loved one. It can be useful to acknowledge this, set aside a few minutes of the day to spend thinking quietly about the loved one. Light a candle, have flowers by the loved one’s photo, or write something for them.

The main thing to remember is that everyone who loses a loved one fears that they and others will forget the loved one. My experience is that those members of family and friends that know us don’t forget but they are afraid, afraid to talk about what has happened. They fear upsetting us. They don’t know how to begin or what words to use, so they avoid conversation. By creating memory books, paintings, anything that can be a talking point, you enable others to share something of your journey with you.

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Alex James

Alex James, MBACP is a professional bereavement counselor/consultant, agony aunt, and author who has worked with bereaved individuals and families for many years. Specializing in sudden traumatic bereavement, Alex has worked for agencies as a trauma support worker, trainer and voluntarily for a charitable trust supporting those impacted by road death. Alex, who lives and works in the UK, is currently based at a hospice, developing specific services for children, supporting children and their families pre- and post-bereavement. Alongside this much-needed work, she continues to manage a bereavement website where she offers confidential e-mail support 365 days a year and also publishes an online bereavement magazine. Alex has appeared on national and local radio and is the author of Living with Bereavement.

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