You can reduce unnecessary suffering when grieving by limiting the time you either knowingly or unknowingly isolate yourself. Self-imposed isolation is a common response to the death of a loved one. Although some alone time is necessary during all grief work, the bereaved all too often withdraw and cause added pain and suffering.

To begin with, grief itself is an isolating emotion because depression, guilt, and anger—common reactions to the loss of a loved one—tend to reduce interaction with others, and many would-be supporters are at a loss as to how to respond. Isolation complicates and lengthens the healing process.

If you are mourning the death of a loved one, or providing support for a bereaved person, here are eight ways to make inroads on the devastating toll that isolation takes on emotional disposition and energy levels.

1. Find a grief companion. Look for someone who has suffered a similar loss. It could be another widow or widower. Perhaps another mother who has lost a child or a person who has suffered the death of a sibling. It can be especially helpful if the person is a few months ahead of you in the grief process. Share your feelings. Having someone around with similar feelings is reassuring that you are better understood. Make a pact to telephone each other at specific times, day or night.

2. Make the expression of emotion a priority. Bottling up emotions is a surefire way to increase the intensity of pain and bring on depression. Suppressed anger is especially damaging to your health and can be managed. The first step is to own it and tell a confidant about it. We are built to allow emotions to go through us and be expressed to relieve the anxiety and physical tension they cause. If you have any negative feelings, get them out and into the light of day with your friend.

3. Use daily meditation for twenty minutes. There are numerous forms of meditation. Few are employed as a way to deal with isolation and cope with the death of a loved one. Yet their effects can be life-affirming. Choose one that you are comfortable with. It will increase awareness of your environment, help you transcend your pain, decrease anxiety, increase resilience, and strengthen your inner life.

A common meditation is to simply choose a pleasing word (peace, love, tranquility, etc.) and slowly repeat it each time you exhale a breath. When your mind wanders, simply bring it back to your word. Don’t expect instant change, but over time you will notice many differences in the way you look at your world.

4. Start your own altruistic program. A universal way to cope with major loss and change is to become a wounded healer and help others as you are still mourning. There are people everywhere who can use the assistance of another. Look around in your community or for organizations needing volunteers. Your involvement will compel you to communicate. It will lift your spirits and enhance self-esteem, and you will make the world a better place.

5. Join a grief support group. This is an ideal way to reduce isolation by being with others who are dealing with loss. In all of my experience with support groups for the bereaved, as the meetings progress, strong friendships are formed, and much insight is gained from others.

6. Use massage. Often major loss brings with it a sense of being alone. I have heard many bereaved people tell me how comforting it was to have a professional give them a massage. The relaxation that is induced and the awareness of feeling comfort was a welcome break from the pain of loss.

7. Strengthen your ties to your Higher Power. There is a growing amount of research pointing to the health benefits of spiritual/religious involvement. Believe that you are never alone and your Higher Power knows what you are going through and is there for you to talk to. Say what is happening to you inside. This connectedness is a powerful force to get you through the most trying times.

8. Grow in your ability to love. The eternal connection of love to your Higher Power (the Divine, the Source, the Universe) and the deceased is part of the way through isolation and loneliness. You can still show love to the deceased by learning how to love in separation and by living the values you acquired through your association with him/her.

All solid connections are based on the power of love. Your mission in life, something we all need, will be enhanced by your ability to grow in love. As you grow, your grief and isolation will fade, and you will see life and death through a lens you never thought could be so beautiful. Whenever you start feeling down, switch your attention on those you love and those who love you.

Reducing isolation as we are hurting and full of pain is not an easy thing to do. However, doing what we dislike doing at the time it ought to be done, is an absolute, indispensable life skill. It will be useful for the rest of your life, not just as you grieve. Start with one of the above today with the firm intention that you will reduce isolation and reinvest in life. You have the power to heal yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His monthly ezine-free website is