I don’t like to give prescriptive advice about what you “should” or “should not” be doing like this because everyone grieves differently. However, there are some things that most of us do when we’re grieving that can hinder our healing process. So, I encourage you to think of this as an invitation and consider what coping mechanisms you’re using that may not be serving you.
#1 Don’t Isolate
I know it can be so hard to be around people when you’re grieving. Maybe you feel too raw or the people around you are saying the wrong things and not being as supportive as you need them to be. But if you isolate for extended periods, you may be shutting down and not processing your grief in a healthy way.
So, I encourage you to find the right kind of professional to work with, or if you’re lucky, you have a friend or family member who can offer support. You may also want to find someone within your religious or spiritual beliefs, who has experience helping grievers. There are also many online and in-person support groups available. Whatever you choose, as much as you can, allow yourself to get some support and to feel that sense of belonging. It can make a tremendous difference in how you process and experience your grief.
#2 Take Care of Your Physical Health
It’s so easy when we’re going through grief to skip a meal or forget to eat altogether. You might find you’re not sleeping well, or sleeping more than usual. Maybe working out is at the bottom of the possibility list or you find yourself using drugs or alcohol to get through the day.
This is all quite common and in some ways, to be expected when you’re grieving. The problem is, when your physical wellbeing is out, your ability to deal with the overwhelming thoughts and emotions is automatically weakened.
And grief is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
It requires so much of you and for an extended period of time. Think of your physical wellbeing is the foundation for your mental, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Get all the help you need so that you can take good care of yourself — ask friends or neighbors to go grocery shopping or cook meals for you. Speak with your doctor about possible sleep aids or stress relievers. Find a personal trainer who can help you keep you with your exercise and movement goals. No need to do all this on your own, there are many different types of professionals who can help you in your season of grief.
#3 Be kind to Yourself
You are an expert at judging yourself, judging others and judging situations, even when you’re not grieving that it’s automatically something you’ll do when you’re grieving.
There’s so much judgment that happens because you start to wonder if you’re grieving “right.” Maybe there’s something I should be doing, or not doing. Maybe if I could just do these specific things, then I’d feel better.
Or we judge ourselves based on how our relationship was with our loved one. What we didn’t notice, what we should have said, how we acted, etc.
Judgment often goes hand in hand with guilt, regret and shame. That judgment starts to weigh us down even more, and makes us feel that much worse.
I know it’s hard, but as much as you can, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to be human, to be imperfect and have flaws. Allow for your humanity and know that, even if you didn’t do the best you could, that’s okay. Acknowledge that it’s okay not to be okay. Practice releasing the judgment—or at least respond to it with a more positive, forgiving statement.
I know this is hard, but you can do hard things, my friend.
And you can always reach out to me to get more support and specific practices to let go of your judgment and practice more compassion and empathy with yourself. Set up your free Discovery Session here.