The Importance of Self-Care During Grief
Grief is a profound and complex emotion that accompanies the loss of a loved one or any significant life change. It manifests differently in each individual, leaving an indelible mark on their hearts and minds. Navigating the turbulent waters of grief requires immense strength and resilience, but it is crucial to remember that amidst the overwhelming sorrow, self-care is needed.
Taking care of oneself during times of grief may seem counterintuitive or even selfish, but it is precisely during these moments that self-care becomes an essential lifeline. In this blog, we will explore the importance of self-care during grief and how it plays a pivotal role in promoting emotional well-being and facilitating the healing process.
By understanding the significance of self-care and discovering various strategies to implement it, we can empower ourselves to navigate the intricate path of grief with greater compassion, strength, and hope.
Grief is a natural part of life but until it touches us personally, we don’t really understand it. When you lose someone close to you, you may experience what are known as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each one of us will grieve differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve, though there are certainly unhealthy ways to deal with your grief. Check out these nine unhealthy coping habits here. Some common feelings associated with grief could include anger, anxiety, confusion, depression, despair, disappointment, exhaustion, fear, guilt, hopelessness, loneliness, numbness, regret, and relief. It’s important to acknowledge the loss and the grief and subsequent feelings that come with it.
The Significance of Self-Care
What is self-care? According to the dictionary, self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. Because grief hits us on every level, we need to be mindful of how it is affecting our physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. If you are walking through a loss, make sure to practice self-care tips which can provide needed comfort, healing and resilience going forward. Laurelbox offers a variety of self-care items that range from physical comfort (these shower steamers are amazing!) to emotional self-care (special keepsakes to honor the loss).
Types of Self-Care During Grief
- Regular exercise even if it’s just a short walk
- Healthy eating habits and remembering to eat, even if you aren’t very hungry
- Adequate sleep and rest
- Incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga to manage stress
- Taking time to express emotions through journaling, art or music
- Seeking support from trusted friends, family or support groups
- Pursuing activities like gardening that bring joy and provide a sense of normalcy
- Finding a keepsake or special ways to honor your loved one and bring comfort
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation to reduce anxiety and increase self-awareness
- Seeking therapy or counseling to process emotions and thoughts
- Engage in cognitive activities that promote mental stimulation and focus. Sudoku counts!
- Maintaining connections with loved ones and seeking their support
- Setting boundaries and prioritizing alone time when needed
- Participating in community activities or volunteering to find a sense of purpose and belonging
Overcoming Challenges to Self-Care During Grief
As you grieve, you may experience feelings of guilt or selfishness when it comes to prioritizing self-care. However, it’s important to realize you aren’t being selfish by going to get a manicure before the funeral or making time for a jog. Your loved one would want you to take time for yourself and find peace in self care activities, both new and old. We as a society struggle with creating space for people’s grief when it feels just a bit too heavy. Prioritizing mental health and seeking support from trusted sources is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Grief is universal but how we process our grief is unique to each of us. Don’t feel pressure to grieve on someone else’s timeline.
When we unexpectedly lost our second son Cooper at full term, I remember I had to force myself to eat. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and let the grief swallow me up. But we had our oldest son, Trey, who was almost two at the time. Thankfully, he was a great reminder that even in the midst of heathbreaking grief, we needed to stay healthy - both emotionally and physically. I spent time journaling. We went for family walks. It wasn’t anything monumental, but they were just small daily self-care tasks to keep us moving forward, ever so slightly. Putting one foot in front of the other and prioritizing self-care is an essential part of the healing process. Grieving well and making time for self-care is a gift both to yourself and those around you!
Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events. She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.