In the last two weeks I’ve had conversations in both our Dinner Party group and our Meetup group about grief at various stages. As I listened to others experiences of grief I was struck yet again by how taboo talking about it is in our daily life.
These are some of the things I heard;
My family or friends wonder why I’m attending a meeting about grief, isn’t that morbid?
I’m feeling stuck, or unsafe, or I want everything to go back the way it was before.
My family expects me to be over this by now.
I’m grieving “wrong.”
I’m feeling hopeless.
As we gave space for all of these stories to be voiced, I sensed a shift in the energy of the room. We gave them permission to grieve in their own unique way. Tears flowed, memories were shared, and there was even laughter. Those who may have felt hesitant to attend visibly relaxed.
The road through grief can seem scary, treacherous, and not worth the effort of even starting on that rocky road, so when you wonder if it’s worth it to go through the pain without any guarantee of a pay off, here are two places you can start: gratitude and self-care.
When you don’t feel like you have anything to be grateful for, start with what is right in from of you. Be grateful for good clean water to drink, for the sun shining on you, for the rain, for good food to eat, for a nap, for a smile from a friend, or for a hug. We think gratitude has to be grandiose before we can start to be grateful but instead start where you are. Gratitude can be a game changer.
Write down three things you are grateful for everyday. It’s important to write them down! At the end of the week, read your list. Your capacity to appreciate even the small things in your life will begin to make a difference in how you see everything in your life. For example, one of my clients was grateful for clean underwear.
I talk about self-care, lots. In the early stages of your grief journey, self-care may mean attending to your basic needs like getting enough rest and eating nourishing food. Having the courage to go to a grief group is also self-care. Simple things like that can give you a glimmer of hope, even a willingness to keep going.
We often don’t feel like we deserve to take care of ourselves, or we believe we are being selfish. That’s why starting with the basics is important. This is true whether you are grieving or just discovering the importance of self-care for the first time. Self-care gives you a greater capacity to cope with your feelings. When you have greater coping skills, your willingness to move through the grief continues to grow.
Before I continue, consider this. If self-care is a word or concept that makes you cringe because of the way it’s portrayed, or if it triggers an old wound, I give you permission to change it to something that resonates for you. This was the case with one of my clients. Self-care felt more like a block than a benefit. This client changed it to soul-care. Choose a word that works for you.
Self-care changes and evolves as you do. Revisiting your self-care rituals regularly can help you to fine-tune yours. I take a look at my self-care rituals whenever I start to feel burnt out or stressed. That usually means I’m neglecting what I call non-negotiable self-care rituals. I get busier and I think that skipping yoga class for a couple of weeks won’t hurt, or I think I can eat just a little gluten. I find out why they are non-negotiable. When I’m attending to self-care I have a greater capacity to handle the stress, and when I am getting busy but am doing self-care rituals then I recognize the activities I am participating in that are not serving me.
I also take a look at my self-care rituals as the seasons change. For me, it’s a good time to see if anything needs to be refined, or added. Here is a blog I wrote about Radical Self-care. (link to blog)
Discover What Nurtures You
What are your non-negotiable self-care rituals?
Make a list of everything that nourishes you; body, mind, and soul.
How do you like to have fun? Put it on your list even if you haven’t done it but have always wanted to try it.
What people, places or things inspire you?
What stirs your soul?
What adds beauty to your life?
Continue to add to your list.
Now I’m going to suggest something that may sound radical to you, schedule your self-care, all of it. Things like massages, haircuts, or acupuncture are scheduled for obvious reasons. I’m suggesting that you schedule an appointment with yourself and give self-care the same worth as you do your massage therapist or the person who cuts your hair. Your list will come in handy when you schedule a self-care break, and don’t know what to do. Look at your list and choose something!
Here are a few more ideas:
- Take walk outside.
- Step outside barefoot and connect with the earth.
- Have a cup of tea or coffee without looking at your phone.
- Pick or buy yourself flowers.
- Do nothing.
One of my favorite self-care rituals is doing nothing, absolutely nothing. Try it for five minutes and see what you think. When you start to feel guilty for doing nothing remind yourself that it’s five minutes. Everything you need to do will still be there when the time is over, and you may be a little more relaxed.
Self-care helps you to relax, reduces stress, and develops a greater capacity to feel your feelings. Self-care is the fuel for your tank. When your car has no gas, you can’t go anywhere. The same is true for you. When your energy reserves are depleted, you don’t feel like doing anything. Self-care brings abundance back into your life so you can be your own best self.