How To Survive Grief and Loss

How To Survive Grief and Loss

From July 2009 onwards, I know I typed ‘How to Survive Grief and Loss’ into my search engine, numerous times. I had a countless number of people volunteering their answer to that question, despite the fact that I hadn’t asked it aloud.

You see my husband died of suicide that summer and part of me was desperate for a structure on how to survive my grief and loss. Like you, I turned to the internet for the answer because Google isn’t and wasn’t directly or emotionally affected by the loss I had experienced.

I wanted impartial advice.

I would have embraced a checklist of things to do and not do.

I would have loved a template or flowchart for managing expectations for that of myself, my children and everyone else in my life.

I would have taken projected timelines or duration ranges as the gospel truth, because I wanted to know that there was a finish line of some description for feeling the way it all felt.

In my searching for a how to survive grief and loss I wanted to validate that I was doing it-something-anything right and wanted to know that I was doing it-something-anything right for my girls.  If not, then how do I fix that!

Navigating grief often means trying to keep your head above water while being flooded by the impact of a major change. It often means having more questions than answers.

“Now what?”

“What do I do now?”

“What does this mean?”

“How do I do this?”

Heavy on your mind and heart

The words grief and loss are loaded with heavy emotions. Picture me moving around a party and stopping to chat with a group of people. After introductions, the next round of questions generally is, “So, what do you do?” to which I respond, “I am a Life and Grief Coach.”

You can practically hear the sound of tires screeching, metal crunching and feel people receding from you at the mention of the word grief.

Why? Because it generates discomfort without elaboration. Grief is a word that can suck the positive vibes out of a room faster than yelling “FIRE!”. The challenge of being a coach whose focus is to help someone resolve their grief, can feel and seem paradoxical. When you mention grief and loss, there is that grey area of wondering if this is “coaching” or “counselling”.

Grief Yesterday and Today

Many common attitudes in our world have shifted to opposite perspectives that only recently would have seemed or felt impossible. Our world and the people who make it up, have challenged the norms and have consciously created new normals. Yet, what has steadfastly remained the same, dated and stigmatized is our experience, perception and response to grief and loss.

We have endless teaching points on how to ‘be, do, get and have’ things, yet when we lose something the conversation is generic, limited or averted all together.

If you are grieving a loss you know, see and feel how it is affecting your life, and some ways are more evident than in others. It can be an omnipresent multi faceted experience, or it can roll into without notice, like the black clouds that gather before a summer storm. Other times it can be triggered by a comment, hearing, seeing or tasting something familiar.

Traditionally you may find yourself seeking a therapist or counsellor. The debate about coaching versus therapy is universal; when you want to make a change in your life, to feel lighter, different and feel supported in moving forward, coaching is an effective choice.

“Classic therapy is an archaeological dig that looks backward to help you understand how you got to this moment. Coaching is an architectural blueprint that looks to the future to help you create something new.” ~Jill Smolowe

Grief and loss can come from a multitude of life experiences. A common denominator is that “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behaviour.”

When you think of grief, most likely death is first and foremost in your mind because it is the most obvious and definitive loss experience equated to grief. Divorce may be the second life event that you think of yet, there are a multitude of other experiences that get overlooked.

Grief and Loss Events

Here is an incomplete list of experiences and events that may perpetuate grief.

  • Death of a loved one – which may include family, friend, celebrity, or any other person you have a significant connection to.
  • Death of a pet
  • Divorce – which extends beyond the couple and may include children, family and friends.
  • End of or significant change of a relationship – friendships, relationship with a colleague, business partner, family member, etc.

Pivotal moments in your life such as:

  • Marriage
  • Graduation
  • End of addictions
  • Major health changes – positive and negative
  • Career Changes – Loss of job and even becoming an entrepreneur or consultant,
  • Retirement
  • Financial changes – positive and negative
  • Legal Problems
  • Moving
  • Empty Nest

Intangibles that may cause us to grieve are:

  • Loss of normalcy
  • Loss of purpose
  • Loss of trust
  • Loss of safety
  • Loss of childhood
  • Loss of faith
  • Unfulfilled hopes, dreams, goals and expectations for your life

No one is immune to grief, and the prompts above can serve as a means to show you that grief and loss is broader and more diverse than what you may have known or considered. It is not a one time or one off experience, as there could be combinations and connections to multiple events and on more than one occasion in your life.

All of the above are either relationships to someone or to something. I don’t have to tell you that when your relationship to someone or to something changes dramatically or ends, grief is a normal and natural response, because the world as you knew it is no longer the same.

So how do you survive grief and loss?

Phone a Friend

I attribute my maintaining a semblance of sanity that July because my friend came and gave me the greatest gift of all – a safe place for me to: express my feelings, express my thoughts, to say nothing at all and to blurt everything out all at the same time.

Not everything that you are thinking or feeling is safe for public consumption. Not everything thing you are thinking or feeling makes sense. I’m not advocating hiding your feelings, but I am inviting you to advocate for yourself to be able to speak and feel without fear of judgment or retribution from others.

Connect to your breath

Grief and loss has a way of making one feel disjointed, disconnected or like everything is going too fast or even too slow. Focusing on your breath, even for a minute, can help reduce stress, lower your heart rate, clear your head and bring you back to the present.

Deeply inhale to the count of three or five feeling your lungs inflate and chest expand, pause for a beat, then steadily exhale to the count of three or greater, feeling the air flow. Repeat the process as often as you need to reconnect to yourself and feel more grounded.

All is Well

I completely get that right now nothing could be further from the truth, however adopting a mantra can have similar effects as the breath work, and may even be used in conjunction. All is well, is one that even though in this moment may feels far fetched, can feel soothing, prayer-like and help to alleviate heavy energy.

Choose a phrase, quote, or prayer, either your own or another’s, that resonates with you. Repeat it in your head which allows you to shift focus, which will help you interrupt the tidal wave of thoughts and feelings you may currently have going through your mind. 

All will be well

I will be well

I am loved

Ask for help

There is an old adage about ‘keeping busy’ and it’s true that may serve as a distraction temporarily but the antidote to busy-ness is asking for help from others. More than likely there are those around you who are eager to do something, to be helpful and take on tasks or errands that will alleviate your stressors. Allowing others to manage tasks that you do not have the energy for or possibly the present cognition that these things need doing means not adding more to your potentially overwhelmed mind.

Gracious Gratitude

Depending on the loss you are experiencing and who comes to support you, some may feel compelled to volunteer their advice and opinions, in addition to their love and support, (both in person and on social media.) You are going through a life experience that others may have experienced in their life, however not everything that people share with you will be applicable to you nor helpful.

It can be yet another challenge to be able to consume all that is being shared with you, so rather than adding even more for you to process, I invite you to simply say “Thank You”.

Thanking someone acknowledges that you heard them and if what they said strikes a wrong chord rather than debate the merits of their opinion you can let it go.

At a time where you may feel overwhelmed I urge you to remember that not everything that is offered to you is something you have to keep.

Grief is normal and natural

There are countless ways that we can learn or are taught about how to acquire things, but very little time is spent teaching how to lose something. Whatever your loss is please know that grief is a normal and natural response to loss, even if as you read this it couldn’t feel anymore abnormal and unnatural. It doesn’t matter what your loss is, grief is normal.

Your world is no longer the same as it was, and in today’s world we may have imposed (by yourself or others) expectations to flow through the experience without a blip. Surviving grief and loss is as personal and individual as you are; as is the unique and significant relationship to whomever or whatever you have lost.

Going Forward

Grief is an extension of all the other feelings you have ever had. Right now it may be dominating all of the others, but it won’t always be like that. It is possible to move beyond your grief.

It is possible.

I know that to be true.

Sherry Trentini is a Life and Grief Coach, who is committed to helping you answer your question, “How to survive grief and loss.” Schedule your free discovery call.

Grief is Not Only About Death

On this day, November 9, 2016 the world is creatively considering what the future looks like based on the choices made and actions taken. There are those who see and feel how things will be possible; and there are those who see and feel how things will be impossible.  Some are stating that this day will be forever remembered in history, as they step into their future.

On this day, twenty years ago, November 9, 1996 I too was creatively considering what the future looked like, based on the choices made and actions taken.  I too, was seeing and feeling how all things were possible and there was nothing impossible about that.

Twenty years ago, the sun was shining, the temperature was balmy for November and well over 300 people gathered to celebrate a wedding. Believing, as they did, that on this day, as we stepped into our future this date will be forever remembered in history.

Wherever you live on this planet Earth.   One thing is for certain, grief is not only about death.

“Grief is the conflicting group of human emotions caused by an end to or change in a familiar pattern or behavior.  Thus, any changes in relationships to people, places or events can cause the conflicting feelings we call grief.”

–The Grief Recovery Handbook

An experience of loss is not stand alone, it can have multiple facets.

When a spouse dies in addition to losing a loved one and ending of a relationship; it may or may not include:

  • loss of normalcy
  • loss of self
  • loss of confidence
  • loss of unrealized hopes
  • loss of unrealized dreams
  • loss of trust
  • end of other relationships [family, friends]
  • financial changes
  • job or career changes
  • moving
  • legal problems
  • loss of expectations for your children

And I stress “may or may not include” those losses because everyone’s relationship is unique.  There may be more to add to that list or for some less.

Its not an effort to quantify the loss, because everyone’s relationship to what has been lost is unique.

Using the results of the recent election; some may be feeling grief over the results and other losses such as:

  • loss of confidence
  • loss of direction
  • loss of purpose
  • loss of normalcy
  • loss of faith
  • loss of relationships
  • loss or change of health of a nation
  • loss or change of money
  • loss of trust
  • loss of safety
  • loss of hopes
  • loss of dreams
  • loss of expectations of the future

The common denominator in either example being unresolved feelings of: wanting something more, better or different.

And the same can be said for those outside of the direct experience.  People can feel grief for those same experiences because a common connection to the whole.

It is normal and natural to feel grief after a loss of any kind, I repeat after loss of any kind.

So on this day, as you step into your future I invite you to…

Be Gentle with yourself and others.

Everyone’s experience is unique.

Choose not to compare your feelings of loss, because feelings are valid.  You feel what you are feeling and others are feeling their feelings.

Listen and share from the heart not the head.

Create a safe place to listen and to be heard.









The Value of Venting or Sh** Journalling

The Value of Venting or Sh** Journalling

The journal that you write your gratitude in is gorgeous.  

The one that you carry in your bag, at your bedside or keep on your desk is plump with ideas, musings and inspiration, and has the most decadent feel to it, in all ways.  

The writing instrument which you use to write the words of thanks, wax poetic about your intentions and mind map your inspirations is not merely a pen, but a vessel from which your own energy flows from and onto the pages of those sacred books.

Those journals, in all their beauty and masterpiece, are containers, preserving all the good thoughts and things documented about You and Your Life and Your Dreams.

So where do you document your angst, your tizzy, your discomfort.  

On those days when you are listening to a monologue from your gremlins?  The eye rolling, the disdain, the What The …?

There is a journal for that….drumroll please…

Introducing the “Sh** Journal”!!

The Sh** Journal is where you write with whatever marker, crayon, pen, pencil or finger dipped in peanut butter.

You write whatever sh** is running through your mind, that is fast tracking your moment, your morning, afternoon, evening, day, two days, week and beyond into the depths.  

The pages will be a safe place in which to express your sh**, your fire, brimstone and disdain. 

It is where you articulate thoughts like:


  • The “I suck, let me count the ways!” soliloquy,
  • The “What on earth made me think I could do this?” tirade,
  • The “Are you freaking kidding me?” moments,
  • The “Really…Seriously…This is happening?” and other drips of sarcasm,
  • The why I should practise, “Would you like fries with that?” monologue.


Where you can pose philosophic questions like:


  • Who gives a Sh**?
  • Why do I give a Sh**?
  • Is this really my Sh**?
  • Why is this Sh** running through my mind?


There’s more…write about when you think you are or feel like the Sh**ty:


  • boss,
  • leader,
  • parent, 
  • partner, 
  • spouse, 
  • friend, 
  • consumer,
  • driver etc.


We have 60,000 thoughts per day, and lets be honest they are not all affirmations.  Its when one of those “I Suck” themed thoughts grabs our attention, then it invites a friend, and the friend invites a friend and suddenly its gone viral.   One simple thought morphed into a stadium filled with these self-deprecating, confidence busting, and alignment kinking thoughts. 

The longer we ignore them, the more come to the party. So get them out of your head, its like crowd control, calling security or 911 for assistance.




You are welcome to go out and buy THE most unattractive to you journal to have at the ready.  You can even doodle or collage a picture of what your gremlin looks like and add it to the back page.  Therefore when you write pressing down as hard as you can its like a voodoo energy towards that monster.  **Don’t forget to add horns or other adornments that further embellish that image.


Also, there is nothing stopping you from grabbing scrap paper from the recycle bin and just going to town.  Make it as easy as possible.




Or lifting the pen.  Write with absolute abandon, the faster you write those thoughts and get them out the better.



DO NOT edit, correct, punctuate…VENT!  Go with the flow.  Its not a presentation, dissertation or speech.   


Why not type it in a document on your laptop then delete it?  Read this article on why handwriting makes you smarter.





Get into the process, whether its rolling your eyes, sneering, snuffling, scowling or mimicking with your mouth what the face of those thoughts look like as you write them out.


Adding facial expressions while you are writing goes further get that energy out of you as you write is doubly cathartic.




Once you have purged and vented all the Sh**, write Thank You to close.


I know you are thinking, “What the….?”  


You have just vented it out, every sh**ty detail.


How do you feel now?  Relief? Exhausted? Refreshed?


What’s happening inside that beautiful head of yours now?  


Is it possible that steam roller is no longer making pass after pass flattening your energy, self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence?  


Have you every had this experience when talking to a friend, whereas you were given the space to vent or been that friend?  What did you say at the end?  Probably thank you for letting me get that off my mind. 


Thank you is closing the loop, its completing the process.




Rip the papers out of said unattractive to you journal, tear them into itty bitty bits, feed them to the shredder, or if possible set a match to them (in a safe, well ventilated area taking all the precautions when setting something afire).  


Feel free to do a tantrum tap dance on top of them before sending them off to their final resting place.


Keeping them serves no value.


Keeping them makes it possible for confidentiality to be compromised.


Keeping them is like keeping those thoughts.


Let them go with another dose of gratitude and a dash of Love.


Why Love?  Well, you may have learned something in your Sh** journalling, you may have learned that the stadium of thoughts had a common denominator called Fear.


Fear that those things were factual.  (Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real)


Adding love to the letting go process is more for YOU so that you can replenish what had been steam rolled earlier.  



Big Inhale


Big Exhale



Trust me, when you have been hosting all that Sh** in your head you were breathing shallowly and now that its out we can get back to business.  So freshen up and reset the body, mind and spirit by taking 3-5 big deep breaths.


Now you can get back to the business of being your awesome self, loving your fabulous thoughts and all sorts of other Good Sh**

Building my Bagua for 2016

Building my Bagua for 2016

All those in favour of the “holidays” being over, raise your hand!

I’m ready to get back into a more normal flow of things and have been for a few days.  

The decompression of one’s normalcy during the holiday season through to the New Year, starts out favourable, then it can bottom out.  

That lack of consistency of a routine has hit a saturation point when it comes to sleeping, waking, eating, coming and going.  

The starter’s gun went off on January 1st, yet it feels like someone fouled at the line and we are in a holding pattern to really get going, until the 4th or 5th of the month.  When collectively the world around us gets back on the field.

I’m holiday’d out.

I’m ready to get on with it.  

I’m ready to put things back where they belong and move forward.

Inflowenza:  The state of awareness that one’s energy is adapting and changing to life’s experiences.  Symptoms can include:  Going with it, going against it, floating on it or treading your head above it.

 ~Sherry Trentini

Feeling that sense of eagerness to get on with whatever moves your spirit is what fuels motivation.

While revamping my space I came across a few fun things in my archives.  I’m not certain what my source of motivation was, but I quite like what I’ve jotted down.

Nature abhors a vacuum

Who you want to be?

What you want to do?

What you want to have?

Who you become determines what you do and what you have.

Who do you want to become?  Be limitless…Remember emotion is the fuel of motivation.

Emotion is the reason you take all the action to create.

Fall in love with your vision.

How do you want to be remembered.

I AM……..

This morning over coffee I really focused my energy on my Power or Theme word for 2016.  I’ve noticed that there many people are calling this year ‘Sweet 16’.  

I loved turning 16.  It was pivotal.  The year I got my driving license and my first car.  Which expanded my independence and had me driving towards adulthood, (rather quickly at times with music blaring).

When I thought about what that felt like back in the day, and thought about the whole energy around turning and being 16, the word that came to my mind was “liberating“.  

What would it feel like to have a liberating year in 2016?

What word would encapsulate that feeling of driving with music blaring?

3 sets of words came to mind:

  • fulfil, fulfillment, fulfilled
  • prosper, prosperity, prosperous
  • thrive

All great sets of words.

The one I kept coming back to is…

Thrive may rhyme with drive, and since I was channelling my 16th year energy there may be an emotional connection.  However, truth be told, as I shared in my last email to subscribers, I shared that 2015 was a curvy year, the learning kind.  I’m ready to use that as a foundation of my personal growth and enhancement and compost it.  

Building on what I learned about myself and others.

Building on my ability to be fluid from 2014

Building on my ability to be fluent from 2015.

Sweet 2016 is my year to plant in that very fertile soil of the past and nurture a robust garden of delights.  

Thrive is defined online by:

  • grow or develop vigorously
  • prosper and flourish

And when I think of those definitions and the energy that burbles up when I think about how the word applies and its many applications to my life as a whole.  It looks like a starburst firework over my bagua!

I decided to reverse engineer things.  I decided to look at my 2016 year of thriving as if it were December 31, 2016.

I decided to feel what it would feel like to have:

  • Thrived in feeling gratitude and feeling grateful;
  • Been connected to a Thriving Community;
  • Thrived in all my relationships (the one with myself included);
  • Made nurturing decisions about health that supported my overall being thriving;
  • Exponential growth in feeling Joy and being creative;
  • Thrived in being able to reflect and learn;
  • Having had a chronic case of “In-flow-enza”;
  • Flourished in being open to help and being a helpful spirit.

When I paused and looked at all the life areas from the perspective of 

Having Lived 2016 in a Thriving Energy, 

as if I had already achieved it at December 31st.  


Un-clicks Seatbelt and gets out of the car to a

Huge Celebration!

I plunked down from Exhilaration!




What word gets your engine going for 2016?

Or do you need a word that supports you slowing down, pulling over, being a passenger?  

On December 31, 2016 what word do you want to use to describe your year?

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Sherry is a very cool coach. She has a deep understanding of personal growth.

I felt very supported and that she genuinely cared. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her validation is tangible.

It felt that her spiritual awareness helped to round out her capacity to “see” where I was going with a topic.

I enjoyed every session and was encouraged to continue forward.

~A. D.