When you lose someone in your life it feels like there is a hole that can’t be filled.
You feel it constantly as you carry that grief with you wherever you go.
There are a lot of online articles available about “self-care.” Obviously, because self-care is important in our everyday lives.
Yet, what are you supposed to do when someone you love and care about is gone? How can you possibly even consider focusing on yourself when everywhere you look is grief?
Yes, when facing a loss self-care becomes even more critical.
Consider these five tips for nurturing yourself.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Grieve
Too often the reason why people seek therapeutic support after a loss is that they never really gave themselves permission to grieve in the first place. This is true whether the loss occurred a few days ago, years, or even decades.
Why does this happen?
It depends on the situation and the person, but here are a few reasons why:
- Not wanting to show their emotions in front of other people for fear of looking weak
- Being told when young that they had to be “strong” for others
- Prioritizing the needs of others—such as relatives, children, etc.—over and above their own needs
- Being at a loss for words to describe what they are feeling
In our society, it seems as if when anyone displays any kinds of feelings or emotions beyond those that are considered “pleasant,” they are judged by other people. Sadly, this stigma only serves to keep those emotions locked away. And thus, they are never processed and understood—so the pain continues.
2. Allow Yourself Personal Space
It can be tempting for some, after experiencing a loss, to go right back to your life and keep going. Even in the case of losing someone close to you, you may feel that you just want to get back to work the next day. As if skipping the grieving will make the loss simply go away.
Yet, an important tool for self-care after a loss is creating some personal space for yourself.
This allows you the opportunity to properly grieve for your loved one. Plus, you get the chance to step back and gain some perspective. Additionally, you want to be able to remember your loved one and have the closure that you need at that moment. Once that happens, then you can resume your day-to-day life without having brushed your feelings under the rug.
3. Remember That How You Cope Matters
How you cope with loss matters when it comes to healthy self-care. Think about it for a moment. When you have faced other stressful or sad situations in the past, what did you do?
Did you cope by indulging in alcohol or even drugs? Or did you try to distract yourself from the reality of the situation? Those are unsound, even hazardous coping mechanisms that often have very negative effects on your well-being.
On the other hand, did you perhaps use positive coping methods?
Some examples are:
- Meditating or reflecting
- Exercising (in moderation)
- Finding creative and positive ways to let go
When it comes to good self-care, make sure your methods for coping are healthy and helpful. Otherwise, you could be creating an even bigger problem for yourself later on down the road.
4. Watch What You Eat
In times of grief, you may wind up receiving a lot of food from others. They mean well. Often, in these situations when you don’t feel you have any control, food is another way you may try to cope with your emotions.
However, this can also lead to overeating, which is not healthy, of course. Therefore, be mindful of any tendencies to “graze.” That’s when you are mindlessly eating without any awareness of how much you’re consuming.
Instead, for healthy self-care after a loss, try to ensure that you are eating a nutritious diet every day, stay away from junk foods, and watch your portions. Your body, mind, and mood will thank you.
5. Talk to Someone
Obviously, you can do many things to practice self-care when experiencing grief. However, the very best thing that you can do is to talk to somebody about the situation and your emotions. This could be a friend, a family member or even a therapist.
Talking about what you are feeling is so important in moments like these. In fact, it’s actually an important part of the healing process after a loss.
Don’t skip this step!
When you experience grief after a loss, it’s easy to get drawn into the deep emotional hole of grief. Remember that even though you should and ought to feel your grief for your loved one, you need to nurture yourself too.
If you think you need help, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist who understands grief and how it affects you. I would enjoy giving you the kind of support you need.