Let's start with a Self-care Check In. What comes to mind when I hear someone say, "I am doing some self care during my grief journey." I instantly think of the following:
Healthy Food Diet
Better Sleep Patterns
It was all the things I used to do before loss and grief entered my life to take care of myself. Once loss came and I saw things were forever changed, my self care went from all the above, to the following:
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Taking a Break
Asking for What I Wanted/Needed
Taking Walks and Praying
Quiet Time to Process and Sit with my Emotions
Finding Balance in a New Normal
The first year felt like I was simply surving. You know how it feels just going through the motions of each passing day. To say that I was 'grief stricken' seems to be an understatement. Grief stricken means being sad, VERY Sad. Overcome by deep sorrow, along with the mental and emotional suffering and distress caused my oss and/or regrets.
It's a right of passage, not meant to stay there. Yet it can be so easy to get stuck in our grief. So with that said, the first year comes and goes. The ebb and flow or survival is exhausting not only mentally and emotionally, but can also wear us out spiritually and physically.
I Thought the Second Year Would Be Easier.
I made the assumption that year two would be easier. I thought I was stronger than this. I even questioned myself by asking, "Shouldn't I be better by now?" The findings of my assumptions didn't allow me to realize that along with the physical death of my special person, came secondary losses that I didn't see coming in that second year. Death had set in motion subsequent losses, called secondary losses, that occur as a result of a primary loss, creating a sense that we are losing everything, and that the pain will go on forever.
We have lost more than our special person physically. We lost our traditions, milestones in life, celebrations, stability, dinner partner, travel companion, hope and dreams, the phone calls and text messages that came daily, the sound of their voice, the touch of their hand, and the routines we shared of getting that second coffee cup down, and the list goes on.
The second year becomes quite clearly one of the hardest years. We begin to recognize that our support system has changed. Roles have changed. People are not checking in as much. We are now realizing that during the first year, we spent a lot of our time tending to everyone eles's grief and not our own. We lost ourselves in others, and this happens particularly in people who are known to lead.
We are less compassionate with outselves. We have high expectations of how this journey is going to look. We soon realize hat our tolerence levels plummet. We discover that asking for help becomes more difficult due to our perceived thoughts of others. We also see clearly that what helped us during the first year, no longer helps us during year two.
Are you beginning to see the elephant in the room during year two? I certainly did. I want to ask that you sit down with a paper and pen, and identify the hard spaces during year two and year three, etc. and lean into them.
What beliefs did you have about grief and grieving? Did you beilieve that being strong for others would serve you/them better? If so, what was the result of you being so strong? Did you believe that staying busy would serve you? What things did you throw yourself into that may have distracted you from the pain your heart was feeling? Did you read, shop, play video games, have a glass of wine that turned into a bottle of wine? Did you self-medicate in other ways? How is that all working now?
I did most of what I described during my first year, and I will admit that none of them served me. I simply became edgy, angry, bitter, and isolate. I found out quickly that my isolation only increased my feelings of sadness and depression. Staying busy and strong wore me completely out. I was eating my emotions, and then would starve myself for a means of regainging some sort of control over my life again. Vicious cycles were taking their toll on my physical, mental and spiritual self. I was so exhausted from it all.
So please, if you feel led to share, leave a comment, share where you are in your grief journey. You need to tell your story. You can medicate your grief, like I did, but you will eventually run that presciption out and no more refills will be given. Then what? Yes, I had to find that path towards true healing. It was worth it.
You know my heart is with yours right now. I see grieving people on a daily basis. Yet I know it is your personal journey, as it was mine. We all grieve differently, but sometimes we need some support. Let me know where you are, and see what we can do to help you see that your life still has a purpose, a meaning, and you decide if this is your time to heal.
From my heart, to yours,