Maybe you are normally super productive, but since your loss you struggle to finish even one task each day. It is SO normal to struggle to finish everyday tasks during grief. Gently remind yourself that you are not a loser, you are grieving.
Maybe you are normally cheerful and bubbly, but since your loss you can not seem to muster up your old zest for life. It is SO normal to feel immense heaviness after loss, and you may have feelings of anger or grief. Gently remind yourself that you are not a dark cloud, you are grieving.
Maybe you are normally fiercely intelligent, but since your loss your mind is filled with fog and confusion. It is SO normal to feel dazed and disconnected after a loss. Gently remind yourself that you are not dumb, you are grieving.
Maybe you are normally a social butterfly, but since your loss you just need time alone. It is SO normal to need to withdraw from crowds of people after a loss. Gently remind yourself that you are not a hermit, you are grieving.
There are a million more ways that our lives change after loss, and many new “first” experiences after a loss. If you find yourself struggling with disdain towards your new self and your new life, this is your gentle reminder that you are not defective. You are grieving. And when you are grieving, giving yourself grace and kindness can make a huge difference.
I have found the following ideas to be super practical ways to treat yourself with gentleness.
Be careful with negative self talk and reframe it when it comes up
After I went through a significant loss, I struggled with negative self talk. I hated how my life had changed, and how I had changed as part of it. If you find yourself engaging in negative self talk, I want to encourage you to do the emotional work necessary to find some relief.
If you are unsure exactly how frequent you are criticizing yourself, you could try a self talk journal using our reflect journal or leather wrapped journal. Each time you find yourself engaging in negative self talk, write the thought down. Is this something you would think about a friend who had experienced a similar loss as yourself? Probably not. Sit with the thought a few minutes and then work to mindfully release it. Remind yourself that you also deserve grace. Remind yourself that you are also deserving of love. Remind yourself that the thought is not true. I found it helpful to draw a dark line through the negative thought, and then write the truth next to it. Once we realize how often we are hard on ourselves, it can help us release them.
Practice regular self care
I think that oftentimes self care gets defined as manicures, massages, and bubble baths. And while those things are great, they are oftentimes not the type of soul satisfying self care that is needed after you experience a huge loss. The type of self care that helps provide lasting care after loss is not flashy or fancy, but it is designed to nourish your spirit and soul.
It is getting outside on a daily basis to let the sun shine on your face. It is finding time to journal and letting yourself experience your feelings. It is spending time with friends who can help hold you up when you feel all is dark. It is prioritizing taking good care of your body through exercise, diet, and good rest. These small self care steps can make a huge difference. And unlike the more flashy self care ideas, these are attainable enough to keep up with regularly and cost nothing.
Find a trusted counselor who can help you process your loss
Many people (including myself) have found a lot of help and support through professional counselors. They can be a great place to go to talk through your loss and find the support that you need. If financial constraints are a concern for you, I want to encourage you to ask your counselor if they offer any financial assistance programs or a sliding scale. Most counselors genuinely want to support their community and offer some type of program to make their services more accessible.
Give yourself freedom to write your own rule book
As much as you can, try and remind yourself that there is no rule book for processing your grief. There is no timeline, there is no right or wrong, and this story is your own. Take the time and space that you need to process your loss.
No matter what you are going through, there is time and space and a soft place for you to land here, our beautiful friends. We love you dear friends! What ways have you helped encourage you in your grieving process?
There are a million more ways that our lives change after loss, and many new “first” experiences after a loss. If you find yourself struggling with disdain towards your new self and your new life, this is your gentle reminder that you are not defective. You are grieving. And there is time and space and a soft place for you to land here, our beautiful friends.