The stress associated with grieving affects all aspects of your being: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. In just a short period of time, you can use up your energy resources and feel overwhelmed and exhausted from the stress of your grief. During this time, it is important to remember to practice extreme self-care in order to nurture you on your grief journey. The following suggestions are ways to care for yourself and lessen your “grief stress.”
Think about the people and places that bring you the most joy.
Prioritize your life, responsibilities and time. Practice saying “no” to items that are lower on
your priority list.
Honor your feelings; do not judge yourself for feeling angry, sad or frustrated. Whenever you are able, honestly share these feelings with other people.
When getting through a day or evening and it feels overwhelming, think about it in smaller
segments of time. For example, tell yourself you only have to make it through lunchtime.
After lunch, think through your plans for the afternoon or evening.
Don't set a timetable for your grief; there is no timeline for grief. You will always miss your loved one. The feels will not always be this intense though.
No one grieves exactly the same way. Do not listen when people say things such as, "That was a few months ago, you should be done grieving by now."
Be easy on yourself. Grieving is hard work. Exhaustion is a common response. Be sure to get extra sleep and take breaks.
Exercise. Physical activity is a great way to release grief. Take a walk, try yoga, join a gym.
Nourish your body. People tend to overeat or not eat at all while grieving. Take the time to eat healthy. Even when not hungry, try to eat small meals.
Give permission to talk openly about you child. Friends and family may avoid talking about your child, as they fear that it will upset you. Bring up your child in conversation - say his/her name, share your memories. This allows friends and family to know that it is ok to talk about him/her.
Express your grief. Don't try to stuff your tears. The more that you hold them in, the more intense the emotions are when they do come out. Set up an intentional "grief time." For example, start your day off by spending some time looking at pictures of your loved one. People who set up an intentional grief time have reported that they are more in control of their grief-related emotions throughout of the day.
Write it out. While grieving, many people continually replay the "would of, could of, should of" in their head. Write out these thoughts. Write a letter to your child and express what you wish you had done differently. Writing it down may help to get it out of replay in your head.
Being a part of a support group and being with others who are grieving will validate your own grief process while giving you suggestions on how to help yourself while you are grieving.
Laugh. You may read this and say to yourself, "How do I possibly laugh and enjoy life again after I have lost someone so important to me?" You have to remember that your child would want you to enjoy the rest of your life. Many people feel guilty about enjoying life after they have lost a child. There are still moments to be enjoyed and your child would want you to enjoy them!
Ask for help. After your child died you may have heard many people say, "Call me if you need anything," but then they never called to check in on you later. Take them up on the offer and ask for help, or to talk.
Read a book about grief. Grief is a confusing experience for most people. Reading a book about another person's grief journey may help to validate and normalize your own experience.
Although you can not influence or change what has happened to you, there is much you can do to affect how you cope with your loss. By making the effort to follow through on some of these suggestions, you will actively progress along your grief journey. As you intentionally practice good self-care, you will intime discover new ways to embrace life.
You are not alone. Remember that if you need to reach out to others in our support group, we have a phone list and most of us are on Facebook