Self care after loss

Have you recently suffered a bereavement? Change is constant but when it impacts upon our lives in such a traumatic way it can really take the wind out of our sails. Before, looking after ourselves was so simple, but life after loss is profoundly different and often it seems irrelevant or simply unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We get so busy looking after others or just trying to get through all the emotions that grief has brought with it, we often neglect to look after ourselves. But in reality, this is the time we need to take care of ourselves most.

Go out to dinner to a location you enjoy, the simple act of having a meal prepared for you can be so nourishing. Call old friends or family with whom you have lost touch. Connecting with positive people who were acquainted with your younger self can help to bring back happy memories.  People who knew you or the deceased can be a helpful way to work through your loss. Sometimes they may have memories about the past that can help you deal with the change in your life. Look at the possibility of joining a bereavement or support group. Being around others who have similar experiences can be therapeutic. Socialising may be difficult but limit it to what you feel you can cope with.

Often after a significant change, our energy levels drop as our bodies are in shock coping with the amount of change that comes with loss.   Exercise will be important just to help our physical body cope. Even if it’s going out for a 30-minute walk. Try to find ways to keep your normal exercise routines up. When you feel the time is right possibly looking at new activities may be something that you’ve considered in the past.  Try to keep an eye on your diet. Significant change can often affect our eating patterns. Some people stop eating and others can’t stop. This is actually quite normal. Food has a strong link with our emotions.

The reality is after we’ve experienced difficult times in our lives we often find our sleep patterns get affected. The irony that at the time we need it the most to help us heal, a peaceful night’s sleep can be so difficult to experience. Remember to rest when you can’t sleep, just giving yourself space during the day can let the emotions process.  There is a range of treatments for insomnia ranging from hypnotherapy  to aromatherapy.  If you feel you are having serious sleep issues ask your GP for advice.

Comforting self-care. This can mean something very different to us all. For some people, at this time it can be difficult taking this time to pamper ourselves, but understanding self-care takes many forms and really acknowledging our own personal nourishment is important here. This self-support comes in different forms.  Some of us like massages, some of us like spas. For others, it is buying that posh coffee or tea we’ve never taken the time to try. Possibly taking that trip to the seaside you’d been putting off. Talk to people who have suffered bereavement. What did they do to give themselves comfort after the bereavement? What do they wish they had done.

Often after a significant loss, we can question our own belief structure, issues around the loss can make us question who we are and why we’ve done what we’ve done.  If there are complicated issues around the loss this can make it a complex situation. And often after a loss, we are not viewing the situation in an honest way. We have a tendency to turn towards negative thoughts. Everything becomes black and white. The reality is none of us is perfect and at times we’ve all made mistakes. Starting a journal can help us get perspective or if an outside perspective is needed to consider contacting a counsellour or your GP.

Remember grief changes us and it changes our world. Taking steps no matter how small to look after yourself is so important. Be kind to yourself and others around you.  Sad times in our lives change our perspective and we may have lost sight of who we are. Healing takes time, and while that’s happening acknowledging the wisdom by taking things one step at a time is so important. You are not alone. Look for the support that you need.

Man standing beside body of water.
Bereavement counselling

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