Caring for Yourself as You Grieve
Grief is a Unique Experience
The uncertainty of grief can be difficult to bear. There is a temptation to set timetables and expectations for the grieving process. Grief is a unique experience for each individual, and there is no clear timetable. In addition, there is no concrete path or instant relief. In other words, grief will take as long as it takes and the only way through it, is through it.
People often ask “How long will I feel like this?” Some people say it seems to get harder before it gets better. Many people find that healing comes in small steps. They have a few good hours or days strung together only to hit a hard patch again. It may feel like you take two steps forward only to take one step back. Remember this is normal and does not mean you are going back to the beginning. Ups and downs are expected when you are grieving. Acknowledge pain when you feel it and enjoy the moment when you can.
Helping Yourself Heal
Grief is exhausting – mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to replenish your energy by spending time alone or with others. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself and do what feels helpful to you. The following are ways to care for your mind, body, and spirit:
Care for your Mind
- Sometimes you can only take a minute at a time and sometimes you can take it day by day. Be gentle and set small, realistic goals. What is realistic now may be different than a year ago or what it will be a year from now.
- Have things to look forward to, even if they are little things such as lunch with a friend, a movie night, starting a new book or a weekend away. This can help you get through the immediate future. Don’t be surprised if your enjoyment of these things isn’t the same. This is normal.
- Listen to music or guided meditations.
- Forgive yourself from “what if” and “if only” thoughts.
- Tell your loved one’s story and share memories.
- Begin a daily gratitude journal. You may have to start with small things you are grateful for and that is okay.
Care for your Body
- It is all about the basics – drink water, maintain regular doctor appointments, practice good nutrition and sleep.
- Exercise in whatever way feels good to you. Moving your body will not only help you physically but can positively impact your mind and spirit.
- Release your emotions – cry, hit a pillow, yell in the shower, or use a stress ball.
- Treat yourself to a facial, massage or an afternoon nap.
- Pet an animal.
Care for your Spirit
- Get involved in something meaningful such as a new or old hobby, volunteering, or creating art.
- Allow yourself to accept the expressions of support from others.
- Be present in the good moments. Don’t underestimate the healing effects of small pleasures – a smile, a shared laugh, a sunset, a favorite food, a walk in the woods.
- Educate yourself about grief. Talk to others who have also experienced a loss, perhaps in a Unity grief support group. Get more information about Unity’s grief support programs here or give our office a call.
- Learn what others in a similar situation have found helpful.
- Allow the space to ask big questions of meaning and purpose. Share these thoughts with trusted people.
If you are looking for additional information about grief, Unity has several resources available on our website for supporting children and adults through grief. Or you can also call into the Unity office for additional support.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.