Grief is hard work. It wears on the emotions and the spirit and on the body. Sometimes it lasts for a very long time and it is important that you take care of yourself when in grief. Following is a brief guide that will give some guidance in just how to do self-care while feeling the sharpness of loss.
Acknowledge your feelings
It is normal to experience anger, despair and an overwhelming sense of loss and/or emptiness when you are grieving. It is also normal to experience all of these emotions at the same time. It's important that you acknowledge your emotions. Some people need to talk, some people need to write, some people need to journal, and some people need to express their feelings through actions or through art. It's all healthy and necessary. Listen to your body It is important to remember that you cannot possibly be emotionally present while your body is not. Grief has its own schedule, and it is important to listen to it and follow its cues. Feelings of grief may manifest physically, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, or exhaustion.
Take time for yourself
For me, the hardest part of grief is going from work to working on the house, from house to grocery store. When you are grieving, you need to take time for yourself. It is also important to take care of others when you are in grief. You may not feel like you have the energy to do something for someone else, but please do. They need your support more than they realize and helping someone else helps yourself more than YOU realize.
Prepare for stress and triggers
The first thing to do when you are grieving is to prepare yourself. Prepare for the triggers. This may mean getting ready for them before they hit you. You will feel stressed and sad before you even realize you are going to and it will be tough to feel better. Learn to recognize the trigger to your stress and give yourself a quiet and peaceful space to be in. It is possible to feel sad for what you have lost and depressed and stressed and to feel lonely and isolated too. As much as possible, take a time out for yourself to collect yourself before you start your day or you will find yourself distracted and feeling the emptiness of your missing loved one throughout. Take a deep breath One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your triggers is to take a deep, long, cleansing breath.
Fight back with self-care
You need to fight back with self-care. You have to beat back the negative feelings of grief. You are not alone in this. We are all here to help each other get through our grief. Sometimes it feels like we are on an endless quest for meaning and purpose in our lives, and it can feel like we are being left behind. That is not the case. As I said, grief and loss are hard. The pain will be there until we get through it. Some people reach the point of saying "Enough is enough" and they want to stop grieving. That is a good choice, but it is also not wise. You need to fight for your grief. You need to face it, and you need to stay present in it. When you start to feel so upset that you think you can't go on, pull out your journal or a favorite book and read or write.
Be kind to yourself
Allow yourself to be gentle, soothed, and responsive to grief. It is OK for you to be with your sadness and it is not a sign of weakness. You are being kind to yourself. Grief is not something you choose to experience. It is not something that happens to you, but rather a side-effect of your own life journey. The ability to acknowledge grief is not an indication that you are a "bad person." Taking time to be with your own feelings is a sign of a true human being. The ability to surrender to your own feelings and desires is a sign of maturity and emotional self-care. Take time to let your sadness subside, but don't try to suppress the urge to give into it.
Seek out support
Find an emotional support group or seek out a grief counselor. If you're seeking support from family and friends, let them know your needs. Grief is a shared experience and there is power in being able to express what you are feeling to someone. You don't have to "be strong" or push people away. We have lost so much with our grief; it is ok to feel. Give yourself permission to cry Not everyone wants to hear you talk about it, but talking about it helps move you through the grief. Grief is a process and it is important that you allow yourself to be there. Crying helps release all the emotions you're feeling and there are no rules about when you should cry. Crying about the loss of your father can be just as cathartic as crying when you lost your mother.
Grief is a difficult journey, but through the good and bad times it brings us closer to the person we lost. Hopefully, as you find peace with their passing and the changes that come after, you can continue to heal and continue to embrace life as a bereaved family.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.