10 Healing Grief Activities That Can Help You Deal With Loss

These grief activities for adults will help you pass the time and honor your memories of your loved one.

Published August 25, 2023
Woman gazing out to sea

Grieving is a process that's different for everyone (and even varies depending on where you are in your grief journey). Creative grief activities can help you process your emotions, remember your lost loved one, and even simply pass the days as you navigate this unique and sometimes challenging time in your life.

Some of these grief activities for adults require you to leave your house, but many of them are things you can do at home. A few even work if you're having one of those days where you can't bring yourself to get out of bed. Skim the list and find the one that's right for you at this particular point in the process.

1. Make a Comfort Kit for Yourself

One of the things that's difficult about grief is that it's unpredictable. If you find yourself suddenly in tears or needing silence and comfort, it can help to have a few things on hand. Making a comfort kit can actually be a healing activity in itself. This is the ultimate form of self care.

Find a small bag or box and fill it with things that will bring you a little bit of peace when you need it most. Then slip the kit into your bag or purse or carry it in your car. These are a few things you might want to include:

  • Tissues
  • Tea bags in your favorite flavor (you can usually score a cup of hot water when you're out)
  • Essential oils that are soothing smells to you (like lavender or mint)
  • Special stone or memento to hold
  • A printed grief quote you find meaningful

2. Write in a Journal

Writing your thoughts in a journal can be a really powerful grief processing activity, and it's something you can do from your bed or favorite chair. You don't need fancy supplies for this either. A simple notebook and a pen is really all it takes.

You can write about anything from your memories of your loved one to the way you're feeling today. There are no rules here. Try not to edit yourself as you write; this is not the time to worry about spelling or whether you're organizing your writing ideally. This isn't for an audience — it's just for you.

3. Cook a Meal Your Loved One Enjoyed

Food is so closely linked to memory, and it can be a comforting and wonderful way to pamper yourself and remember your loved one at the same time. If there's something your person really enjoyed eating, make or buy that meal for yourself. Bonus points if you can use their recipe for it. It might not be your own favorite food, but eating it can feel a little like a glimpse of your loved one.

Quick Tip

In some cultures, people set some food aside as an offering for the deceased. If you feel like this would be meaningful to you, you could set some food aside in honor of your loved one.

4. Nurture a Plant or Tree

Young woman nurturing her plants

Even if you don't feel like doing much right now, nurturing a plant or tree can help you turn your grief over a loss into something living. When you're feeling especially down, take care of the plant. Water it if it needs it, dust the leaves, prune it if it needs that, or do whatever you can to help it thrive. This can also mean just spending time with the plant.

For this grief activity, you can use a plant you already have (it's super meaningful if it's a plant your loved one cared for). You could also use one that people gave you for the memorial service or funeral. Or you could plant something from seeds, such as a small windowsill garden or flowers outside.

5. Go for a Walk With Your Loved One in Mind

Moving your body can help your mind process things, and grief is no exception. Just the act of going for a short walk in your neighborhood can get your blood pumping and give you a little change of scenery. You could also head out to a nature area or a park your loved one really enjoyed.

Quick Tip

As you walk, think about the person and what they would have loved about what you see and hear. This can be cathartic, and you might even find that it turns into a daily ritual.

6. Paint or Color in an Adult Coloring Book

When we grow up, many of us let go of our ability to create without self-judgment. Adult coloring books, paint-by-number kits, or any type of guided creative art can help bypass this judgement and let you just enjoy making something with your hands. This is a great grief activity for adults because it can actually be a very mindful and calming experience.

If you don't have a coloring book handy and don't want to run out to get one, you can print out adult coloring sheets and just use colored pencils or markers you happen to have already.

7. Make a Memory Box for Your Deceased Loved One

A memory box or jar is a great way for people to leave their memories of someone at the memorial service or funeral, but you can also create a box on your own. It's a simple grief activity that can become part of your daily life.

Start by choosing a box that is special to you because it reminds you of your loved one. It might be a jewelry box, a container they used to keep mementos or cards in, or anything else that feels right. You can even decorate a shoebox with pictures of them.

When you think of your loved one, write down the memory on a notecard or slip of paper and put it in the box. If it feels comforting to you, take the memories out from time to time to reread them.

Woman looking at photo from box

8. Decorate or Make a Candle to Remember Them

Lighting a candle and thinking of your loved one can become a special daily ritual. It's even more meaningful if you make or decorate the candle in their honor.

You can put the candle in a jar and decorate the jar with pictures, beads, and other embellishments. You can also make a memory candle with a printed picture of your loved one or a favorite quote.

9. Engage Your Mind With Puzzles

If you're in the midst of grief, concentrating on a book or movie can feel difficult. That's totally normal (and also normal if you can read or watch something). It takes less sustained attention to do simple puzzles, but they can be super effective at distracting you for a while and giving you a break from your own thoughts.

Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and word games can all be fun. You can pick up a book at the drug store or grocery store or download an app for your phone. There's no wrong way to do this; just pick any kind of puzzle you like.

10. Build a Bird Feeder

Woman hanging handmade birdfeeder

A project can also be distracting and help you get through a difficult time, especially if it's not too difficult or huge. A simple DIY bird feeder or bird house is a good option because it also helps you nurture something living.

Pick a bird feeder project that feels doable to you (we're partial to using old cups and saucers to make simple bird feeders to hang from trees or set on your deck). You can even buy a bird feeder and simply decorate it. Again, there's no wrong way to do this.

Quick Tip

To make this grief activity even more meaningful, you can paint the bird feeder in your loved one's favorite color or decorate it with a quote or memory of them.

Grief Activities for Adults Can Help You Process & Heal 

A major loss isn't something you ever "get over," but the way you experience it will change over time. Until it's easier to bear, grief activities for adults can help you pass the time, make sense of how you feel, and find new ways to remember your loved one.

10 Healing Grief Activities That Can Help You Deal With Loss