Grief is hard on our bodies.
Grief is hard work. It’s hard on our bodies; it robs us of ability to eat and sleep, it disrupts our normal routines, and it destroys our peace of mind. Even when we do sleep, when we wake in the morning, we remember all over again. Chronic fatigue and exhaustion are common and natural experiences for those in heavy grief.
When combined, all of these sap our ability to heal and recover, which further compounds our grief and makes us more miserable because we start to physically feel miserable.
It’s so important to take care of ourselves when we’re grieving, yet it is often one of the first things that we neglect. We don’t feel like it, we don’t have the energy. It’s unfair. Life’s unfair. Why bother?
Losing a loved one is like being hit by a bus. It immobilizes us. The shock waves are immense, and roll over us again and again, relentless and debilitating. Some days, we can barely lift our heads. We have a limited supply of energy each day, and right now our grief is consuming a lot of it.
Let that be okay. Let’s remember to be kind to ourselves right now. We won’t be functioning at 100% at work, at school, or in our daily lives. Once we acknowledge that, it becomes easier to allow ourselves the time and space to heal without feeling rushed or pressured.
Allow your grief to surface. Let your tears flow. Crying and grieving is how we express profound sorrow and loss. Our tears are healing. They are therapeutic. Breaking down at random times is normal and part of the grieving process.
It seems to ambush you when you least expect it. Try not to fight it; let your tears come. If you are self-conscious or in an inappropriate place for tears, make time for a private “grief-break” in the bathroom, in a car, or by taking a walk.
Grief certainly takes the flavor out of food, that’s true. But, if we don’t eat, we don’t recover. Crying dehydrates us, and if we don’t drink enough water to replenish us, we feel worse. In the beginning of grief, we may have to force ourselves to eat and drink, but let that be okay.
The ability to sleep is one of those things that seems to go away after a loss. If you’re having trouble, try taking a bath before bed, or getting into a new bedtime routine that you follow (whether you fall asleep or not). If your pet shared your bed, try getting a stuffed animal or pillow to fill the empty space where they used to sleep.
Find something small each day that gets your body moving; even a little bit helps. This doesn’t have to be hard or strenuous exercise, just enough to get you outside. For instance, take a walk, stretch, or do some light yoga.
1 thought on “Taking Care Of Ourselves”
The last thing I want to do is take the time and energy to take care of myself. Bring my dog back, and I would come alive, again. I feel defeated. There is no enemy and no way to control this pain. Thoughts and memories come and go like flashes of lightening. They get my attention and before I am over the sudden wakeup reality that this is “forever,” I am getting inundated with new profound deeper challenging and ugly facts.
We don’t have to consider if we are getting anywhere in this grief because as I get nearer to a few minutes or parts of a day that feel healthy, I will be sucked right back into that dark place of o control and “forever he is gone.”
So I have come up with a plan: I carry around a very small spiral notebook and I clip on a pen. I have trained myself to write down that defeating fear or agonizing thought on one side of the page in the notebook. I don’t have to analyze it or argue it. That will come naturally.
And soon, I am gaining little bits of strength. The bits don’t last long; but they are percolating and building me up a tiny bit at a time. Here is an example of one of my constant aches: I wrote: “He is gone forever. I am never going to see him again; I just want him back!”
Soon, right then or later that day or night, I responded on the backside of that page: “Mom is gone, too. And so is Dad, and so is Maximus. I cannot see them this side of Life; but I do expect to see them when it’s my turn to pass. This was my precious dog’s turn and I had no more say than I did with the other souls I have lost. I can do this.
Soon, I my pages multiply; but the particular fear or thought does not.