Self Care During Grief
Someone once said that self-care is a lot like taking vitamins or flossing. You know you should do it, but most of us just don’t do it. Or at least not on a regular basis.
We’re stressed, tired, and overwhelmed with responsibilities at home and work. Plus, because you’re reading this, there’s also a good chance that you’re going through a period of grief.
Even if someone close to you has been suffering from some sort of sickness before passing on, it always seems that death comes in an instant, turning everyone’s lives upside down.
Initially, you won’t have time to take everything in. Those first few days are full of preparations, like funeral arrangements, eulogies, and other distractions.
Yet, at some point, you’re going to have to face reality. Then, once the loss really hits home, it can be too much to bear.
Then, you try to reach out, and you find out the hard way that people don’t like being around you when you’re sad. They don’t do it out of spite; they just don’t know how to help.
So, they avoid the topic altogether, which leaves the bereaved feeling isolated and even sadder.
The good news is that there are numerous ways of self-care ideas to help you during times of grief. But because everyone deals with grief, sadness, and loss in their own way, we rounded up five primary ways to take care of yourself in times of mourning.
Before we start, it’s important to mention that self-care isn’t selfish. Nor does it mean disrespecting the deceased in any way.
It’s simply learning how to embrace the grief and push through the pain. But, at the same time, without letting yourself succumb to unhealthy or destructive behaviors or habits.
Rumi once said, “The cure for pain is in the pain.” In other words, grief is all about addressing the pain, not avoiding it. Self-care can help you transition through this difficult period in your life while promoting your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Experts say the number one self-care idea during times of grief is to surround yourself with people who are close to you.
If you can’t be with them physically, technology has you covered. You can video call via Skype or Zoom and watch a movie together virtually just as a way to feel comforted by their presence.
Is video calling not an option? Then the next best thing would be a regular phone call. Ask them to listen as you vent if that’s what you need to do.
If you don’t feel like talking, then ask them to tell you about their day. Just listening to the details of their lives can help calm down the thoughts swirling around in your head. Plus, it can help get your mind off your sadness.
However, it’s worth noting that some people may not want to intrude on your time of bereavement and sorrow. So, don’t mistake their manners for a lack of love for you or disrespect.
Gather your courage and call a friend or text, “Are you free for lunch or coffee?” Think of it as a gentle reminder to let others know you’re okay with going out and being in the company of friends and family.
Find a bench in the park and just sit. You don’t have to do anything but enjoy the smells and sounds around you. Look up at the clouds, listen to the birds chirping, and watch the branches swaying in the breeze. Let your mind wander as you think about anything you want or nothing at all.
Nature has this way of relieving stress and anxiety while allowing us to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. In fact, numerous studies have proven that being around nature regularly can help reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety.
The Japanese seem to have understood the importance of being close to nature as far back as the 1980s. So, they created a type of psychological exercise, which they call shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing.’
This type of therapy is where participants spend time in a forest. They can either walk around, sit, or even lie down on the ground and enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Yet, you don’t have to ‘bathe’ in the forest to enjoy its benefits. If you’re up to it, you can go hiking or biking. It’ll give you a chance to get your mind off your grief. But, more importantly, you’ll get a good stress-relieving workout and stimulate the release of feel-good hormones in the process.
Writing has been hailed as one of the top self-care ideas ever! Whether you’re going through stress, depression, or grief, writing is how you gain perspective on your thoughts and emotions.
Some people like to journal by writing notes and letters to their loved ones who have passed on. This is a great way to work through your pain rather than avoid it. Plus, it helps bring closure, which is an essential part of the grieving process.
Alternatively, other people prefer to just let their stream of consciousness take over and simply jot down the thoughts that pop up in their heads. Then, when they read it back to themselves, they’re able to reframe their thought process and gain a clearer perspective on life that they would otherwise not be able to.
Seeing your thoughts from a different viewpoint allows you to be less critical of yourself. As a result, you become kinder and more empathetic to yourself, which enables you to be your number one supporter and advocate.
That’s all the encouragement you need to move forward. Then, slowly but surely, life will start returning back to normal.
Reading is a great way to take your mind off things for a while, which can be incredibly helpful when dealing with grief and sadness. For example, some people read books about death and losing loved ones, while others read non-fiction books about grief itself.
There’s also lots of research that reveals that reading a funny book can help alleviate some of your negative feelings and ease some of your sorrow.
If you can’t get yourself to pick up a book and read, then watch a funny sitcom. For some reason, shows that make us laugh seem to be comforting and take us to simpler times.
Fortunately, you can find plenty of grief support groups in your area. Just being with a group of people who understand how you feel can be incredibly insightful!
You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. Just sitting there and listening to others sharing memories, emotions, and thoughts can be a valuable part of your grieving process.
It’s also a great way for you to learn how to accept your range of emotions. Many people become afraid of what they feel and try to stifle or ignore them in the hope they’ll go away on their own. But that only makes them more potent and overpowering.
So, having that support and knowing you’re not alone can really help you embrace your feelings rather than push them away.
Another fun thing that’s been popping up is groups that focus on grief and something else. For example, there are grief groups that double as book clubs or do bicycle rides.
This way, you enjoy a couple of hours each week with a group of people who share a common interest that goes beyond bereavement. You get to share your emotions and make new friends in the process.