Grief and Nature Therapy: Finding Solace in the Outdoors

In times of sorrow, the steadfastness of nature provides comfort. Feeling the warmth of the sun, listening to the quiet wisdom of trees, and absorbing the restorative energy of wild places soothes our weary souls. Intentionally spending time outdoors while grieving, known as nature therapy, benefits both mental and physical health. Let nature wrap you in her healing embrace during this difficult season.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Oct 27, 2023
3 min read
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Why Nature Aids the Grieving Process

Studies show that being in nature, even briefly, reduces negative emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness. Other therapeutic elements include:

  • Natural beauty inspires awe, lifting our gaze from grief.
  • Flowers, trees and animals model the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
  • Fresh air, sunshine and movement boost endorphins and energy.
  • Greater awareness of our senses provides grounding.
  • Observing slow, incremental growth fosters patience.
  • Solitude and quiet allow inward focus for processing grief.

Nature reflects that seasons change and no darkness lasts forever. We experience renewal firsthand when outdoors. Let nature guide you gently to hope again.

Natural Settings for Healing

Here are meaningful ways to incorporate nature into your grief journey:

Spend Time in Your Garden
Tend to plants, watch birds, layout on the grass, and feel your loved one’s presence close by. Gardening brings comforting routine and creates living memorials.

Take Nature Walks
In parks, woods or your neighborhood, walking meditatively engages the senses while releasing emotions. Breathe deep and receive nature’s peace.

Sit by Water
Lakes, rivers and oceans evoke serenity. Water energizes and signifies life continuing its course. Observe the steady flow.

Watch the Sunset
The daily cycle of sunsets comforts through assurance of light returning tomorrow. Darkness won’t prevail. Watch hope emerge.

Listen to Nature Sounds
Play recordings of rain, ocean waves, birds and other sounds to calm your nervous system when you can’t be outdoors. Close your eyes and imagine yourself immersed in nature.

Enjoy Natural Views
Take in panoramic views from mountaintops, open meadows or overlooks. Let awe and beauty lift you out of your grief, if only for a moment.
Immerse all your senses in nature’s restorative gifts. Open your heart to receive them.

Outdoor Practices for Grief Processing

In addition to passive time in nature, try engaging in more active practices:

Walking Meditation
Sync steps with your breath. Shift focus from grief to sensations of walking. Return focus when emotions surface.

Yoga or Tai Chi
These gentle movement practices unite body and mind. Position yourself facing natural views for added benefit.

Forest Bathing
Also called Shinrin-yoku, slowly walk through the forest mindfully using all five senses. Let the woods soak into your soul.

Write in a Nature Journal
Find a peaceful outdoor spot to write about emotions, memories, gratitude, self-care goals and nature’s lessons.

Talk to Your Loved One
Have meaningfully conversations out loud while sitting under your loved one’s favorite tree or looking over a shared vista.

Create Nature Rituals
Develop soothing rituals like planting flowers on birthdays, stargazing on anniversaries or reading poetry by water.
Nature welcomes your vulnerability. You need not put on an act when outdoors. Release emotions authentically.

Ensure Your Safety and Comfort
Especially when grieving, listen to your body so time in nature reduces anxiety rather than adds stress. Follow these tips:

  • Stay close to home if you have low energy. Even sitting outdoors helps.
  • Tell someone where you are going if hiking alone.
  • Dress comfortably in layers and use insect repellant.
  • Bring water, snacks, a journal, phone charger or anything you may need.
  • Have an alternate indoor plan if weather conditions like cold or rain exacerbate sadness.
  • Choose locations where you feel safe and grounded.

Nurture yourself as you nurture your connection with nature. The earth offers healing any time you receive it. May nature bring you moments of respite as you travel the grief journey.