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Grief is a natural response to loss of any kind, whether it’s the death of a loved one or the loss of a job or friendship. Rather than suppressing our emotions during the grieving process, being able to grieve properly with support is the best way to move through the different emotions. The Prophet (pbuh) allowed himself to experience various emotions as part of grieving over his loved ones, such as during the loss of his wife, Khadija (RA), his uncle Abu Talib (RA), and his young children. If grief is not properly experienced, it can spiral into more severe mental health issues.  In this toolkit, we provide resources for understanding the grieving process, coping with different kinds of loss, and how to provide age-specific support to children and young adults.

This toolkit was developed by Mariam Kandil, M.A., Mariam Rahseed, and edited by Madiha Tahseen, PhD
Grief is a complicated process, unique for each individual and for each kind of loss. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve. Read this resource to understand the stages of grief, myths about grieving, and symptoms of grieving.   

Use our faith to help you through the grieving process:

  • Feeling great sadness does not mean one is questioning Allah’s will. Even the Prophet (pbuh) cried after loss and went through the various stages of grief. 

  • Listen to the “Death of Loved One” short video by Dr. Omar Suleiman 

  • Understand the process of death from a Islamic perspective and what happens afterwards in this video series “For Those Left Behind” by Dr. Omar Suleiman
“Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew you and permit you to move on.” Click here to read more from HelpGuide.Org
  • Acknowledge and accept what you are feeling. The best way to overcome your grief is to go right through it. Learn how to ground yourself and be more mindful
  • Pay attention to spiritual bypassing, when religion and faith is used to shut down emotions, like “You just need to pray more…”
  • Start taking steps to fill the void inside of you left by your loved one. Healthy coping is essential to overcoming your grief. 
  • Alternate between “loss-related” activities (e.g., looking at photos of the deceased, crying, talking about the person) and “restorative” activities (e.g., making plans for the future, spending time on hobbies)
  • Exercise. Your level of activity can have a significant impact on your mental health
Healthy coping depends on the type of loss
The grieving process may look different based on the type of grief you are dealing with. How to cope with loss will depend on the kind of loss you have experienced. Refer to the resources below for navigating through certain kinds of losses:

  • Loss of a loved one: Coping with the loss of a family, relative, or friend is one the hardest challenges in life. This resource provides tips on how to cope with loss and ways to find a new meaning and purpose in life. 
  • Sudden death: A sudden loss is shocking, confusing, and disorienting–all of which makes it harder to accept the reality of the loss and our ability to cope. This resource explains the grief process and tips that can help people cope after losing a loved one to sudden death. 
  • During a pandemic: People were experiencing a variety of losses during the pandemic, such as a loss of a family member, loss of job, loss of income, loss of socialization etc. This resource provides tips on how to cope with grief during Covid 19. 
    • COVID-19 has changed the way we grieve and honor the passing of our loved ones. Here are some of the issues you may be struggling with after the loss of a loved one, and some coping strategies that may help you process.Click here to read this original FYI article
  • Loss of an adult parent: Read this pdf for issues that are unique to losing an adult parent.
  • Loss of a spouse: Living without your spouse brings unique emotions and feelings. The person you need the most to support you is the one you are grieving the loss of. 
  • Loss of a child: Bearing the loss of a child is a form of grief in its own category. Use the following resources to navigate the loss of a child, including through miscarriage, stillbirth, or pregnancy:
      • Why has this happened? A grieving mother processing her grief through an Islamic perspective
      • Watch “Loss of a Child” Video by Dr. Omar Suleiman
      • Find comfort and religious reminders By Mufti Menk when coping with the passing of your child
      • Grieving after a miscarriage or stillbirth can be worsened when those around you minimize the loss. Give it a name and be gentle with yourself. 
      • What to consider when talking to children about pregnancy or infant loss. 
      • • Age-appropriate ways to explain miscarriage to children
Grief does not magically disappear after a loss. It triggers confusion, emotional, and physiological reactions in many different ways over time. Here are some things to consider as you cope with loss over time, year after year. 

  • This resource provides on how to continue on the path toward healing and how to cope with reminders of the loss. 
  • Try these ideas to cope with the anniversary of a loved one’s death
  • Holidays are a time of mixed emotions for those grieving a loved one. Think about these holiday survivorship skills or this tip sheet to take care of yourself during this vulnerable time. 
  • Recognize that there will be times when you are “stuck” in the grief process. This is normal and a part of the process. However, when you cannot move through it, you can start to display prolonged grief–learn what it is and how to get help if you find yourself struggling with it.
Most of us haven’t been taught what to say when someone we know is grieving, so it’s easy to fall back on platitudes and clichés. Here are suggestions for what to say instead to a parent, caregiver, or colleague through grief, loss or bereavement. 

  • Help someone who is grieving using these 5 steps:
    • Understand the grieving process
    • Know what to say and what NOT to say
    • Offer practical assistance
    • Provide ongoing support
    • Watch for warning signs for depression
  • Try these six common strategies for supporting a grieving family member or friend 
  • Know that good grief support isn’t just a one time thing and learn how to provide ongoing support 
  • Recognize what is helpful and what is hurtful to a parent grieving the loss of the their child
“It’s often hard to know what to say or do when someone you care about is grieving. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. There are many ways to help a grieving friend or family member, starting with letting the person know you care.” Click here to read more from HelpGuide.Org
How to Talk With Young People about Death
Death overwhelms adults and childrens. Many times, young children may not understand what is going on and their parents find it difficult to explain death. 
  • This resource provides tips about the Do’s and Don’ts of talking about death with your child. 
  • This talk to your school-aged child about death
How to help Kids and Teens Cope with Grief
Children experience the grief and anxiety that comes from loss in different ways at different stages in their developmental growth. Their outward manifestations may seem surprising if you don’t know what to expect.
  • Know what grief looks like, how to talk about it and how to help children and teens cope with grief
  • How to help children cope with the death of a loved one.
  • Understand these 10 basic principles of grieving for children and teenagers
  • Reference this tip sheet to support grieving siblings
  • Learn how to support children and teens at various ages using this chart as well as the following age-specific guides:
    • Children ages 0-5 years
    • Children ages 6-12 years 
    • Teens and Young Adults
      • Tips for grieving teens from the voices of other teens
      • Tips for supporting a grieving teen (from other grieving teens)
      • Tips for young adults grieving a death
Teenage and adolescents are going through an often confusing time period in their lives and have unique needs especially when it comes to handling grief and recovering from incidents of loss. “If you know a teen who has experienced a death, you might be wondering, ‘How can I help?’ Here are some tips to keep in mind. In general, if you find yourself unsure of what to do or say, remember to take your cues from the teen. It’s likely that they know, or will be able to figure out, what they need.”

Click here for a tip sheet from Dougy.org Click here for an article from Kara-Grief.org

Children experience the grief and anxiety that comes from loss in different ways at different stages in their developmental growth. Their outward manifestations may seem surprising if you don’t know what to expect. Use this tip sheet to help guide your understanding and approach as you help children cope with death. Click here for a tip sheet from Tiporangecounty.org

Children grieve differently than adults do. This brief guide describes 10 basic principles of grieving for children and teenagers and how to help them through understanding their developmental needs as they relate to grief and loss. Click here to read more from Kara-Grief.org
Survivor’s guilt is a sense of deep guilt that comes when one survives something when others may have not. Major traumas such as war, natural disasters, and other violent events are common incidents associated with cases of survivor’s guilt. Often times feelings of guilt, and thoughts of what might have been different if another scenario plays out in the mind of the person who is experiencing this type of trauma. Click below to read more about survivor’s guilt, what it looks and feels like and what to do to help yourself or someone you know who may be experiencing this. Click here to read more from Whatsyourgrief.com
Survival’s Guilt
This thorough analysis discusses the kinds of guilt that may occur following any traumatic event. The paper includes an examination of actual culpability as well as the sense of culpability found in many trauma survivors. It offers some possible methods of dealing with guilt. The paper is divided into three segments: 1) understanding and assessing guilt, 2) guilt after surviving, and 3) guilt for actions taken or not taken that endanger others. Click here for more from GiftFromWithin.org

Teen Trauma
Group Interventions for Treatment of Psychological Trauma This academic paper discusses group interventions for the treatment of trauma in adolescents. The authors point out how to differentiate normative from problematic responses to trauma in adolescents. The authors also address the benefits of group interventions in treating adolescents, specifically adolescents who have suffered trauma together. And finally, it notes how to develop a workable group for treating adolescents who have suffered trauma. Click here for paper from The American Group Psychotherapy Association

Suicide Support
This detailed guide explains how to facilitate a suicide survivors support group. Although, this guide is specific to death by suicide the concepts in the guide can be helpful for facilitating any support group of people who have been affected by trauma or loss. This guide helps people channel their grief into productive ways in order to mitigate further tragedy. Click here for more from the Suicide Prevention Action Network Check out The FYI’s Suicide Prevention Toolkit
This toolkit update is funded by the: