By Jennifer Scott
Grief can be devastating. When you lose a cherished loved one, you’re left to wrangle with a range of emotions that you may have never experienced before, and it can be a challenging, isolating, and tiring process. When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to treat yourself with kindness and patience. Here are a few ways you can care for yourself as you cope with loss.
Grief is exhausting. In the early stages, it leaves you emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. In the later stages, it comes as sneak attacks that knock you out for the rest of the day. When you’re grieving, it’s crucial to take time for self care.
Spend time relaxing in the sun, enjoying the warmth on your skin and breathing deeply to clear your mind.
Take a hot bubble bath, a long shower, or go for a cool swim. Relaxing in water can help you enter a meditative state, releasing stress and anxiety.
Eat something nourishing. Grief may cause anxiety and depression that dulls your taste buds, but taking care of your body is an important part of healing.
Most importantly, never feel guilty for setting your grief aside to seek a moment of peace.
Give Yourself Time
There’s no timetable for grief, and there’s no right or wrong amount of time to grieve. Some people may return to a more or less normal life after a month or two, while others may find themselves entrenched in the grieving process a year later. Don’t let yourself feel like you’ve grieved for too little or too much time.
However, while extended grief is normal, unending mourning is not. If you find yourself unable to handle daily life and exhibiting signs of major depression beyond the first couple months, talk to your doctor about your feelings. Normal mourning can transform into pathological grief when grief-induced depression fails to fade over time. It’s OK to need help working through a loss.
Understand That Grief is a Process
Grief has many faces. You may find yourself overwhelmingly angry one day and reduced to tears the next. You’ll have good days, bad days, and days where you feel utterly numb. Understand that grief is a process, it’s not the same process for everyone, and it’s certainly not a neatly packaged progression of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Your pain will change shape as you travel through grief. At first, your grief may feel like a gaping wound. However, over time that wound will close and scab, and one day it will be a small scar that reminds you of all you’ve been through.
And some days, even years later, that scar will start to burn and you’ll be struck by your grief. It may be an anniversary, a birthday, or a little something that reminds you of the loved one you lost. Don’t try to run away from these moments of grief. Accept them, cherish the memory, and carry forward.
Learn to Accept Your Grief
The grief of losing a loved one never goes away, it just becomes manageable. Life ultimately carries on, and your grief becomes a part of you, instead of a suffocating dark cloud. You may feel guilty for carrying on with life without your loved on, but moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting — it’s simply a natural part of the grieving process.
Grief can be devastating, but it’s also inevitable. Loss is an intrinsic part of life, and every person will face grief at some point. When that time comes for you, remember that no matter what shape your grief takes, taking care of yourself will help you to get through it in the healthiest way possible.
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