Coping with Grief and Loss: Tips for Africans


By: Adebowale Bello, Freelance Health Writer. With medical review and editorial support by the Datelinehealth Africa Team


Grieving and sad looking African woman with teary eyes

Grieving and sad looking African woman with teary eyes



Grief is a natural response to a significant loss and is usually associated with the death of a loved one, however other life experiences such as a relationship breakup, health crisis or loss of job can also trigger the range of emotions associated with grief.


The journey of grief is one that each of us would embark on and even though people grieve in different ways, there is a collective sense of loss which can be manifested as remorse for taking or not taking a particular action, anxiety, anger, guilt, confusion, mood swings and even withdrawal symptoms.


Though grief is natural, when it becomes intense, it can be life threatening and may lead to self-harm or  suicidal thoughts. Hence, it is essential for you to understand and know how to cope when you experience grief and loss.


How To Cope With Loss


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed a few steps or tips which you can take or adopt  to help you cope with grief and loss These steps have been organised here into an easy to remember acronym; A.C.E.P.T.

  • Accept Help: It's common for people who grieve to feel the urge to curl in a corner of the room, wishing it was all a dream as a feeling of helplessness washes over them. However support from family, friends, professional or spiritual counselors and healthcare professionals remains invaluable. 


The practice of support is common in the African setting as people rally round looking for ways to help and relieve the grieving individual. This may include group or individual offers of prayers and other spiritually based counselling, the performance of tasks like washing of clothes, dropping the kids off at school or even heading to the market to stock up on provisions, These “little acts” go a long way in providing succour and comfort.

  • Create A Routine: As circumstances change and you come to terms with your grief, you might find that you have a lot of unoccupied time on your hands which you have to use properly. Occupying yourself with tasks and activities can help take your mind off your grief temporarily as you focus on things that are actually within your power to control and achieve.


  • Engage in Activities: Get involved with others in causes or endeavours which your departed loved one was passionate about and contribute meaningfully in their honour.


  • Preserve Memories: Initially, you might not be able to stop the tears flowing down your cheeks as you come across sights and sounds that remind you of your loss. However you can preserve these memories by collecting and keeping items such as pictures and videos which remind you of your departed loved ones and create a visual memorial album.


Time Heals: In addition to embracing the practices detailed above, the passage of time itself is needed for the necessary healing to take hold and blunt the initial intense grief and hopelessness that you may have had. Time aids acceptance of loss. Time heals! 


Apart from the tips discussed above, a recent study carried out in the United States discussed how positive events known as “Uplifts” could bring a sense of joy and satisfaction in one's life.


Uplifts don't have to be large, extravagant things but even acts such as getting enough sleep and open communication with your partner or a trusted friend can help manage the negative feelings and emotions attached to grief.


If you're coping with loss, here are some uplifts you should do to boost your emotional well-being daily:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Take a walk or evening stroll
  • Help someone in need
  • Spend time with family and friends 
  • Set personal or professional goals which you can work towards
  • Spend some time volunteering 
  • Express your emotions through writing, painting or playing an instrument
  • Reflect daily on the blessings in your life and be grateful for them
  • Continue with those culturally relevant activities that were part of your life prior to the grief or loss, for example, daily prayers and attending religious activities. 


Dealing with grief and loss can be challenging. However by embracing the notions in A.C.E.P.T. and practicing uplifts daily, you can find joy, meaning  and hope again as you heal from the pain of loss.




  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Grief. [Internet, 2023]. Available from: Accessed February 18,2024
  • American Psychological Association. Grief, Resources from APA. [Internet. 2022]  Available from: Accessed February 18, 2024.
  • Cailin AM, Reynold CM, Neupert SD. Traumatic losses permeate daily emotional experiences: roles of daily uplifts and subjective age. JIAAP. 2024. Available from:



Related: How Grief Affects Your Body and How to Fix It, According To An Expert




Published: February 20, 2024

Updated: March 8, 2024

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