When someone you love dies, it can feel as if life will never go back to ‘normal’ again. Adapting to life without that special person being there will take time, and likely many false starts. With the practicalities of arranging a funeral and looking after friends and family, self-care could easily fall by the wayside but looking after yourself will enable you to take care of those around you. Every person grieves differently. Below are some suggestions for self-care strategies that you may find useful:
Spend time with family and friends
Your loved ones may be giving you space to avoid intruding on your grief. Often, those around you will wait for you to make the first move and as difficult as it can be to send that text or pick up the phone, reaching out for a cuppa or a walk gives that gentle signal that you would like company.
Maintain the connection with your loved one
Although your loved one is gone, the relationship you had still exists. If they are the person you shared daily news with, you may find it helpful to keep doing this, whether by writing to them in a journal or visiting a special place you shared and speaking to them. It may seem a little strange at first but it can bring comfort.
Listen to yourself
With so much going on, it can be easy to push aside your feelings and needs. Remember to take a moment and listen to what your body is telling you; cry when you feel like crying, sleep when you’re feeling tired, connect with those around you if you need to talk.
Be kind to yourself
No one expects you to be able to do everything. There is no ‘perfect’ way to grieve. Take every day as it comes and don’t put pressure on yourself. Grief is exhausting, a marathon of a journey, and it will take as long as it takes.
Take time for the things you love
Grief and guilt are often intertwined. When moments of happiness replace your sadness, you may feel guilty and reluctant to continue doing the things that make you feel good. Whether it’s getting back into a hobby or treating yourself to a pampering appointment, feeling good does not diminish your grief and will instead help you on your journey through it.
Physical exercise has been shown to improve your mood and while hitting the gym may be the last thing you fancy, even gentle exercise such as walking and swimming can release those endorphins.
Be patient with those around
Many people struggle to find the ‘right’ thing to say to a person who is grieving. In reality, there are no right things and it’s worth bearing this in mind. The people around you are doing their best to be there and comfort you, even if they don’t have the right words for it.
For further advice and support on bereavement and grief, please click here.