Activities to Explore Child Loss Grief
Take time to explore your grief in healthy ways. If it seems too overwhelming, take a break and reach out for support.
A Tangled Ball of Emotions
This handout shares information about grief and acknowledges the complex and common emotions that can be experienced when grieving. We encourage you to identify which emotions you have experienced by coloring them on the "a tangled ball of emotions" handout (originally created by H. Norman Wright). You can alternatively create your own tangled ball of grief by creating a color code that represents each emotion and drawing in each represented color to make the ball. It may also help to journal about each feeling afterwards.
The Tangled Ball of Emotions
(Sources of Strength)
This handout provides the opportunity to explore various emotions that you have felt in the past, currently, or rarely. You choose four different colors for each of the four boxes. (For example. red for "right now," blue for "recently," green for "not recently," and grey for "rarely.") Color each of the feelings based upon when you felt them using the associated chosen color. It may also help to journal about some of the feelings identified afterwards.
The Valley of Grief
This image is a depiction of the reality of grief, in which emotions are usually not experienced in a linear fashion. Print or draw the blank version of the valley. Choose a different color for each emotion and draw lines using each color that represent your "flow" of emotions while grieving.
After child loss, it can become quite easy to forget to care about yourself due to feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, etc. If the idea of "pampering" seems far away, start with basic needs: take a shower, drink water, make a fruit/vegetable smoothie, change your bed sheets, watch a funny/favorite tv show or movie. As you advance in your self care, treat yourself to an Epsom salt/essential oil bath, facial, manicure/pedicure, massage, and personal training or art session.
This book provides brief meditations for each day of the year. Turn to the date that you experienced your child loss, read it, and write or draw a picture of your residual thoughts and feelings. You may also consider creating your own meditation to reflect on.
This book that helps to normalize grief by creating ingredients needed to express and safely heal. You can create your own "recipe" of things needed in your tear soup to help you with expressing grief and safely recovering. For example, recipe items might include crying, asking for help, taking a walk, throwing water balloons, etc.
Create a Memory Box
Paint a wooden box, purchase a box, or decorate a shoe box to create a memory box for your child. If you experienced pregnancy loss, consider placing the ultrasound picture and writing on slips of paper plans/hopes/dreams that you desired for your child in the box. If you experienced infant or child death, consider including possessions of your child, photos, or objects that represent your favorite memory with them.
Journal Your Grief
Although it can be challenging, "schedule" time each day, week, or month to sit with your grief. For example, schedule on your calendar grief journaling time every Friday at 6:00-6:05 pm. (The more that you practice being uncomfortable sitting with grief, the less it may catch you off guard over time. Slowly increase the amount of time from 5 minutes to 10 minutes to 15 minutes and so forth.) Despite the discomfort of emotions, set up your physical environment with things that feel comfortable. For example, you may want to cuddle up with your favorite pillow, light a calming candle, or choose to write with your favorite pen. Determine (before you begin journaling), how you will treat yourself afterwards. Plan to pick flowers or have your favorite snack waiting for you.
Write Your Story
Create a book using white paper and stapling the pages together or purchase a blank book (can be found at your local art store or on amazon). Draw or write the story of your child loss including what happened before, during, and afterwards. Create a cover page and title of the book. You can also include photographs if desired. For the ending of the story, consider drawing or writing about how you are healing, recovering, and/or who is supporting you.