12 Healing Words for Navigating Grief

The Power Words for Well-being

Words can have a powerful affect on our well-being. Words of love and encouragement heal. Words of bitterness and pain destroy. Words can inspire and motive. Words can depress and deplete. Words spoken by people we love and respect have a great impact on our feelings.

Words we tell ourselves have the same power to uplift or paralyze. In grief, you need words of action and inspiration to cut through the painful experience of loss.  As you turn the calendar to the new year, or a new month, make a resolution to act on these twelve words that you add to your personal healing vocabulary. This simple step can help bring you peace and gentle reminders for you

Choose one

These words make great moments of reflection or meditation, inspirational quote gifts or prompts for gratitude writing. Choose one and breathe!

Fulfill: to carry out order; to satisfy something.

Fulfill one of your personal desires that you’ve put off until “later.” Later is now! Take a class, go on that trip, become what you’ve only thought about. Fulfill means taking action on a promise to yourself.

Imagine: form an image in the mind; assume something.

Imagine your future in a positive, happy state. You can put your imagination to work on a long term future or just to get through to the end of your day. Imagine a surrounding and feelings that make you warm, safe, comforted. Imagine is the action that draws a map for your success.

Create: make something; give rise to something.

Create a tangible memory. Art, dance, music, storybook, card, sculpture, photography, poetry. Find a way to preserve your creation. Create is an action to give form to feelings.

Volunteer: do something by choice; offer free help.

Volunteer your time and skills to an organization in need. Choose a cause that matters to you. It does not have to be related to your loss. The smallest offer can yield large rewards. Volunteer service is an action of self-worth and contribution to the world.

Breathe: take in air.

Breathe deeply to bring yourself into the present moment when the fog of grief is heavy. Breath is life. Breathing is an action of choosing life, hope and acceptance in the face of difficult moments.

Reflect: send something back; say something to self thoughtfully.

Reflect on concerns and worries to give them credibility and find solutions. Reflect on joys and happy memories to magnify their value in your life. Reflection is an action of acknowledgment and appreciation.

Write: put words on paper; compose for publication.

Write in a journal for yourself and for posterity. Feelings, memories, musings. Love, hate, anger.  Sorrow, wonder, loss. Writing is an action of discovery.

Forgive: stop being angry about something; pardon somebody.

Forgive the injustices committed and the words misspoken that make you bitter. Forgive your own transgressions. Forgiveness is the action of releasing negative feelings and accepting all human qualities.

Hope: want or expect something; confident desire.

Hope for happy endings, new beginnings, great deeds and further reach. Dare to dream about the way you want your life to be. Hope is the action of optimism.

Educate: teach somebody; develop something.

Educate your way to the next level of being and understanding. To teach you must learn. Education is the action of empowerment to yourself and others.

Assess: determine amount.

Assess where you are today, in the moment, from one to ten. Name the topic (crying spells, grief level, emptiness, etc.) from best to worst. What will it take to be or feel one step better? One level happier?  Determine how you can change your situation one step toward “better.” Assessment is the action tool for incremental gains.

Talk: express something by speaking; reveal information.

Talk your way to feeling better. Talking aloud helps you hear your own thoughts. Do you need answers or just to talk? Talk with trusted advisers for solutions, or talk to good listeners to vent. Talking is the action of expression.

Action Heals

Grief lessens when you take action to heal: assimilating your loss in your changed life; finding ways to remember, honor, and memorialize your loved one; and learning who you are with and without this person. The journey time varies for each person. But the steps are often the same.

These words above can be taken in any order, repeated, skipped or modified! You might choose one each month for all of 2011. You can adopt them simultaneously, or layer a new word as you are ready to take on another challenge. The point is to choose to take some action that makes you feel better!

What do you think? Which ideas are new,  or a needed reminder, or intriguing to you? What other action words have you found inspiring you as you work through your grief and loss?

Now What?

  • Print and Post 12 Healing Words PDF for your home or office wall.
  • Write and define your own list of healing words.


5 replies
  1. Suz
    Suz says:

    A friend just added a word to this list for me….
    Allow God to work miracles in your life. Allow others to help. Allow love in. Along with sorrow comes joy. ALLOW.

  2. Jean Tubridy
    Jean Tubridy says:


    I just love your twelve word idea an definitely be printing it out to hang on my wall.

    ‘Inspire’ and ‘Sense’ are two words that I particularly like as well.

    Thanks so much,


  3. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Love these – and also think about SHIFT, as in making a choice or setting a goal to shift your focus, shift your proverbial weight … shift your perspective. Make a choice to try to view things a different way, to search high and low for silver linings, to look for the good in things instead of always or mostly thinking about the tragedy or the hardship of it all. Words I certainly need to keep in mind!!

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