After the momentum of funeral planning, cremation or burial, and visiting family and friends, the grief of losing a loved one can seem like an endless dark road stretched out in front of you. There are many methods for coping with loss, but one way to deal with bereavement in a healthful way is through discovering a new hobby or crafting. Here's how hobbies affect grief and some ideas for activities that can be meaningful. 

Why do new activities and interests help?

New activities are a great remedy for grief because they stimulate the release of endorphins. The body produces these "feel good" hormones to reinforce things that are supposed to keep us alive -- eating delicious food, exercising, sexual activity, and having children all release endorphins. When the body is stressed from grief and depression, these hormones can be released from things that improve your skills and creativity. When you become involved in the creative process, time flows by and it is easier to forget yourself and to feel apart from feelings of grief. After you do create something new, you also have feelings of becoming part of something larger than yourself. The challenge of learning a new creative skill juxtaposes the feeling of stuck and lost without your loved one. 

When crafting, your memory and reasoning sharpen, helping you to better recall pleasant moments in the past with your loved one. In quiet reflection and with the flow of creativity, you'll find a respite from the grueling taskmaster that is grief. 

What types of activities are good to engage with?

  1. Model trains. For women and men with great attention to detail and a focus on a concrete end goal, building working model trains can be a great outlet. They can be done a little at a time, and if serving others helps with the grieving process, you can donate a completed model train set to a children's home or Christmas fundraiser. One hospital in Ontario has a consistently expanding model train for patient therapy. It ends up being quite effective for those who seek for a meaningful and even social outlet. 
  2. Knitting or quilting. This form of creativity can be especially effective for parents who have lost a child. Quilting from portions of the deceased clothing, or knitting clothing for babies or children to donate, can help to bring meaning and service to the loss. 
  3. Woodworking. Creating something from a raw element into something refined and beautiful can be quite cathartic. You can attend a class on woodworking and learn to build things like cabinets and furniture.
  4. Painting. Attend a painting class in your area and create masterpieces. You can even paint scenes or objects that we precious to your deceased loved one. 

Visit a store like Ann's Hobby Center for more inspiration and ideas.