(Author of Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief) Emily Thiroux Threatt’s blog post is a sign for you to practice self care.
I had a good friend who was there for me years ago when I was struggling with my grief. My parents had died, and I had such a big hole in my life. My Dad died first, suddenly, and I had so much to do with helping mom deal with all that needed to be done, and I had a family to take care of, and two jobs. What that all led to for me was blocking my dealing with my own grief. My mom lived a few more years. I had so much to do for her. I ended up bringing her to live with me which was challenging because of the effects of the brain tumor she had. For the last few months of her life, she finally consented to have someone stay with her around the clock at her home. She lived an hour away from me, so there were many hours of driving. And after she died, she left so much for me to take care of.
I simply didn’t have time to grieve, so I tucked my grief away where it seemed to grow and fester. At that time, I had a close friend. He knew my mom, and he had dealt with the death of his mother years before. He was safe. I didn’t have to put on my public front that I had been using for work and my other activities. I didn’t have to be strong like I felt I needed to be for my children and my husband who were all close to mom and relied on me to support them through their grief. He was just there with no demands or expectations of me.
I could tell him anything about what I was experiencing, and I knew he wouldn’t judge me. He just listened to me as I felt sorry for myself or got frustrated with the situation. And he didn’t tell me what I needed to do. I really didn’t want advice. I just wanted to talk.
There were also times when I didn’t want to talk, and he was OK with that. He didn’t make me feel guilty about what I was or wasn’t doing. I know that he couldn’t “make me” feel anything, but having others have expectations of me was a challenge. I only took one day off from my teaching job when mom died, and one day off for her funeral. Even though I worked full time, I was not entitled to bereavement leave. I was expected to continue working at the same level without anyone even noticing how hard that was, how fragile I felt.
When he noticed that I wasn’t eating, he’d bring me food. He didn’t ask me if I wanted something to eat, he just brought me familiar foods and he would eat with me knowing that I probably wouldn’t eat if he wasn’t there. He also noticed when something needed fixing and just fixed it without me asking him to. His kindness allowed me to breathe when I felt under great pressure.
I have been asked about self-care, what that actually means for grieving. In answering that question, I reflected on my friend. Caring for myself, I followed his example which would be a good start for you doing your own self-care. First, I didn’t put pressure on myself. I didn’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. When I didn’t want to be around people, I chose to stay at home and read, watch a movie, or take a bubble bath. When I did want to go someplace, I would ask a friend to go with me which provided a buffer or escape if something came up that I didn’t want to face at the moment.
If I wanted to talk to someone, I would make a phone call. And if I didn’t want to talk to someone but needed to vent or deal with feelings, I got our my journal and write until I didn’t need to write anymore.
I would remember that I needed to eat, and I would make wise choices about which food would serve me best. I did, however, stop by the bakery that was close to campus for a maple bar and milk when I went in at early hours. Treating myself occasionally to something special felt good, and I would smile. And I would notice when something needed to be done and take care of it. This felt good, too, knowing that I was capable of taking good care of myself.
I also started working on my smile. I realized that I didn’t have to have someone there to smile at. I could smile just for me, and when I did smile, I felt better. I would practice smiling in the mirror, or I would find something funny to read or watch on television. Smiling seemed to release something inside of me that allowed me to feel good.
I encourage you to think about someone special who has taken care of you. Or think of a friend who was there right when you needed. Think also about any kindnesses people have done for you. Write these things in your journal, then when you are ready for some self-care, do these things for you. Pamper yourself. Wrap yourself up in your own love. Remember how special you are. And live your best life. This is the greatest self-care.
I would be happy to put you on the reminder list for or Writing Together Through Grief occurring on Saturdays each week by sending an email to me to firstname.lastname@example.org and giving me your email address.
You can order Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief by clicking here at Amazon.
Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief
A Comprehensive Guide to Reclaiming and Cultivating Joy and Carrying on in the Face of Loss
Rediscover sustained moments of joy as you seek a new way of being in the world. Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief guides and lightens the journey to positivity for those who feel the pain of loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a job, a marriage, a house, a pregnancy, a nest egg―anyone or anything that we loved and that is no longer in our lives. In this book, author and fellow griever Emily Thiroux Threatt provides you with strategies to embrace the process of learning how to start living again.