Taking Care of Yourself After a Loss
The way you respond will vary depending on a number of factors including your personality and how you’ve experienced previous losses. The circumstance’s surrounding the loss and how close you were to the person who died will also make a difference in the beginning stages of grief. If a loss is sudden or unexpected you may feel mostly disbelief and shock at first. However, if your loved one was ill or was older you may experience less disbelief, and greater sorrow. Yet, even with the variance in how the loss happens; the moment you learn of the death you begin the grieving process and deep inner changes will begin to unfold.
You can see changes in the mind reflected in your thoughts. You will find yourself desperately searching for a way to understand what happened. You may continue to review the events surrounding the loss. You may find that in one moment life feels normal again and in the next moment the reality of loss invades your thoughts. In your grief you may struggle to accept that in one moment your life changed forever.
Emotionally, you may find yourself swinging from intense feelings of:
disbelief to gut-wrenching anguish. You may then find yourself feeling
angry and then sad. These intense waves of grief are normal and
are an expected experience as you begin the grieving process. You can
expect your emotions to move through deep intense cycles and fluctuate greatly. The emotional changes in the beginning of grief will help you eventually to accept the loss.
The moment we learn of the death of a loved one is the moment we embark on a journey into grief. The grieving process is a deep inner adjustment to loss. Grief is a mind, body and spiritual experience; it is a synthesis of all the thoughts, feelings, sensation and experiences that arise as we struggle to accept our loss. We grieve for the death of the loved one and for our own anguish as we face their absence in our lives. The grief we feel in the face of loss can be overwhelming and overpowering.
Grieving is an experience that changes us and changes the way we perceive ourselves and our lives. We begin to feel and think differently. We may see life in ways that where not apparent to us before the loss. What we once held as dear may now lose meaning as we encounter the finality of death. Our sense of who we are in the world is challenged as we wrestle with the changes wrought by grief.
Grieving is a journey into the heart and soul. It touches us at our core and challenges us to excavate strength and courage to heal our deep wounds. Therefore healing from grief is an experience with the power to transform us, and to awaken us to life.
By following these steps you will create a daily routine that offers support for your healing. On some days you may not follow each step. One day you may feel willing to help yourself and the next day you may not feel like doing anything. That’s okay. If you apply these steps to your daily life you will discover that you have the power to help yourself through it. You can endure and you can heal. Do what you can and when you get off track work your way back again. Each time you do something self-supportive you will give yourself another piece in the puzzle of your own healing.
The grieving process is a journey that demands great feats of your body, mind and spirit. You will need all of your strength to deal with your loss and continue to live your everyday life. Because of the challenges grief creates it is important to do what you can to help yourself through the experience.
There are several self-supportive actions you can take each day. They may seem simple and a part of your everyday life but when you are immersed in grief it is easy to neglect the most basic and significant aspects of your well-being.
- The first step is to drink plenty of water
Drink at least 10 eight Ounce glasses of water each day. Dehydration can cause fatigue and irritability that will accentuate your grief. You can prevent this by remembering to drink water throughout the day.
- Eat well.
It is also very important to eat healthy and nutritious foods during this time. Focus on meals of nutrient-rich whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins. Be sure to eat three meals each day and keep your blood sugar stable by eating small nutrient-rich snacks throughout the day.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar as much as possible.
Both alcohol and sugar depress the body and deplete levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that helps us to maintain a state of well-being. The intake of alcohol and sugar can aggravate your already fluctuating emotions. If you use these substances to relax or to soothe your emotions; try taking a walk or talking with a friend instead.Caffeine should also be avoided because it can increase anxiety and irritability. If you drink coffee daily limit it to one cup. If you are tired; and you will be; give yourself permission to take a nap or rest for a period of time each day. Ask friends, colleagues and family to help you meet job responsibilities, take care of your children or run errands if you have little time to rest. Choosing rest instead of caffeine is a long-term choice that will ultimately help you to return to your normal energy level.
- Get some form of exercise each day.
Even a short Walk will support the body’s own healing resources. Exercise supports the release of stress and the production of healthy brain chemicals that create a sense of well-being. Whatever form of exercise you choose, try to set aside at least 20 minutes for it each day.
- Spend time each day doing something that is relaxing and enjoyably. Whether you enjoy gardening, writing in a journal, reading, meditating or walking take time each day to nurture your soul. It will help you through the most difficult times.
- Find support for your healing.
Support can be anything that gives you inspiration, guidance or encouragement. You may find support through a church, your family, friends, animals, hobbies, or you may discover that a healing professional is needed such as a counselor or psychotherapist; they are especially good for providing support. Whatever works for you is what you should do.