Just put one foot in front of the other, it will take time, but you will not always feel this way
To say grief is hard is an understatement. I will not pretend or attempt to sugarcoat things: Every day is going to be painful beyond words, but don’t think too far ahead. I made it this far by taking it one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.
Here are some quick tips to help you navigate and cope with your grief.
- For now, just do the next thing. Eat, drink, cry, whatever needs to happen next, just focus on that.
- Remember to breathe, even if it feels impossible. Try different breathwork practices like the 4-7-8 technique periodically during the day
- Think and move more slowly. In early grief, your brain is on overload, and it will need time to adjust so try to avoid expectations
- Establish routines and rituals to give you a sense of control and structure to ground you. It is helpful to include a morning ritual to set you up for the day, an evening ritual to help you fall asleep
- Practice grounding exercises and rituals to summon serenity, release agitation, and help you find a cocoon of safety in the present moment
- Self-soothe yourself to survive the present moment. Unlike self-care, it is not a luxury, but a necessity in grief. It is essential that you learn the art of self-soothing because there is only one person who is available to soothe and comfort you 24 hours a day and that person is you. A self-soothing ritual is a cave that provides you not only safe shelter but also nourishment and resources to tackle the lingering stressors that besiege you in grief. You can also practice somatic self-soothing to turn off the threat switch in the body
- Take time to sit with your grief in crying sessions. Try not to isolate or keep the pain in. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that inhabit your body and mind. Cry when you need to, talk and vent, write in your diary, engage in a creative process share your person’s memories with others, talk about their life and tell your grief story
- Distract yourself from your grief with movies, social media, music, or any other activities when the emotions become too unbearable. In grief, distraction serves as a worthy “pain control treatment” that helps you not only manage stress but also triggers its positive and healthy benefits of neural pathway restructuring through neuroplasticity.
- Remember to hydrate as often as possible
- Practice self-care and be kind to yourself and try to love yourself the way your person will. When you don’t feel like eating, can't sleep, or don't want to exist anymore, think about what they would want for you. It is important to make sure you look after yourself properly and make sure to get a regular meal and use evening rituals and sleep resources to help you sleep
- Move your body a little bit each day, even if it is just a 2-minute walk to your mailbox
- Reminders, lists, and productivity apps are your friend especially if you are experiencing the fog and forgetfulness of grief brain
- Avoid putting yourself in stressful situations. For the first few weeks, try to stay in places where you feel safe and secure. Try to avoid crowded areas or going on long journeys.
- Learn about what is happening to you and how grief affects your body, brain, cognition, and psychology. Read books and listen to grief podcasts. With awareness and education comes empowerment and a greater ability to cope.
- Connect and find community with other bereaved people who can hold space for your grief and validate your experiences because they too are walking a similar path
- When you miss your person like crazy, find ways to keep the bonds alive by connecting with them through mourning rituals and visitation dreams
Grief is a spiral journey
The dance with grief is a spiral dance that takes us into deep pain, brings us to a place of release, abates for a time, then continues deeper until we at last land into our hearts. It is a dance that leads us from the mind to the heart and brings us into greater intimacy with ourselves and life.
As you spend time processing your grief, you come to realize that the love you share with your loved one is invulnerable to time. Everybody you have ever loved is part of the fabric of your being.
Please try to be patient with the process, make friends with it, let it work through you, and know that you are not alone.
Things will get better.