Moving through Loss and Grief – Give yourself is time for self-care

If you ask people who have lost a loved one what they want the most, the answer is usually for the pain to go away. Grief is a process and the amount of time it takes to get through it varies from person to person and the tools they employ.

A New Mourning

Georgena Eggleston knows a lot more about grief than many of us,  after having buried her brother, father-in-law, mother, father, and teenaged son in just three and a half years. In the next eighteen months due to an industry wide downturn, she experienced the closing of her business and the repossession of her home. Having served in the long-term care setting for decades as a speech-language pathologist, Georgena had witnessed losses of her patients. When their health was compromised, requiring a move to as assisted living or nursing home, their grief was palpable.

It was this very series of events  and  professional life experiences that put her on a path to becoming a trauma specialist and grief guide who now supports others through this challenging process.

People usually know that they are in grief immediately after a significant loss, but they rarely realize that grief can cause a host of longer lasting physical, social, and mental problems including anxiety, nausea, neck and shoulder pain, headaches and even depression. Other symptoms of repressed grief include:

  • Awakening each night at 2 a.m.

A constant fatigue.

Sense of being unfocused and distracted

Being uncomfortable when alone

Discounting happy moments thinking it is not the right thing to do.

Having a hard time forming new relationships

Staying overly busy because they’re afraid to be in their grief.

What people in grief universally wish for is relief. They want the pain to simply go away. They want to wake up and feel refreshed again. They want the clouds to brighten and the burden to be lifted.

However, there are gifts to be discovered in the grieving process. The challenge is that you have to make a conscious choice to grieve. If you suppress your grief, you actually delay moving through it and this often creates additional problems. The best short cut is to go through it.

The best and quickest remedy is to go just do it. When you are ready, grieve. Let it happen. Here are some recommendations on how to lean into your grief.

Listen to your body and its messages

When you are ready to move into and through your grief, here are some of the many ways to make grieving easier:

Take the first 90 days off.

Put everything on hold for a year. This is not the time to move, take a new job, get married, get divorced, get into a new relationship. Just wait.

Let others take care of you. When people express their sympathy, often they will offer to do something for you. Take them up on it. Delegate the work that needs doing.

When people ask how they can help, tell them “restaurant gift cards, please.”

Carefully select others to talk to about your experience and what you’re going through.

Allow the fatigue and the overwhelming roller coaster of feelings. Don’t resist. If you get tired, rest.

Simply do the basics. Don’t complicate your life.

Just say No.

Focus on What You Want

Ask yourself the following: “What is the most kind and loving thing I can be, do, or have for myself in this moment?” Here are some possibilities:

A cup of tea. A glass of water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon.

A walk outside to feel your bare feet on the grass, the dirt, the sand.

One minute of peace and quiet as you turn away from the computer and stretch.

Being grateful for what you are doing or for where you are right now.

  • Gratitude for someone or something beautiful right in front of you.

Noticing your breathing. Exhaling like a lion and then allowing a breath to come.

Going to the bathroom when you first feel the urge.

Take a drive. Feel your hips in the car seat, your back supporting you, and take note and pride as you place your hands on an imaginary clock at four and eight on the steering wheel. Get in the groove. Drive for a while.

Being kind to your body by asking someone to help carry or move something.

Reading a book.

Playing with a child.

  • Taking a walk or walking the dog

Telling your story of loss to a trusted colleague or family member.

Watching the clouds, trees, flowers, people outside the window.

Grieve freely.

Experiencing the grieving process allows you to move past the feelings and move on to a new life. Only after grieving can you create a new relationship at a deeper level with yourself or the person who is gone. Whatever the loss is that you experienced, you will feel better again. This is the shift that needs to happen and the way to get there is to emphasize self-care.

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