When a loved one dies, it can feel like life is turned upside down. A significant loss has a way of making us question our own place in the world and wonder how, and if, we’ll ever regain our equilibrium. Here are some ways to stay balanced during times of grief, when it seems the ground is shifting under your feet.
1. Reconnect with your passions.
When we’re feeling down, it can be hard to muster up the energy to do the things that we’ve always loved to do. Make the choice to reincorporate some of the activities that you know to be a tried-and-true source of pleasure. What about finishing that colorful scarf you’d been excited to start knitting? Perhaps it’s time to take advantage of spring’s arrival by planting some bright blooms in your garden. Maybe this weekend you can check out that local farmers’ market you’ve been meaning to explore. Set aside some time to dedicate to revel in what brings you joy, whatever that may be.
2. Rely on others.
It’s often the case that we want to isolate when grief becomes overwhelming. We don’t want to burden others with our pain, and so we shut ourselves off from our friends and family. Remember the old adage: “Joy shared is joy doubled; a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.” By reaching out to others, we allow them the gift of giving to us by being a witness to our pain. We are comforted by the knowledge that as lonely as grief can feel, we are not alone; we have those in our lives who want to support us, not only in happy times but in tough times, as well.
3. Double-up on self-care.
Before the death of your loved one, you might have been pretty good about eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Have these healthy lifestyle habits started to slip a bit? Now’s the time, more than ever before, to consciously nurture yourself. Self-care doesn’t end with the physical, though. Your self-talk plays an important role. What are you saying to yourself? Are you mentally beating yourself up for having feelings of guilt, anger and overwhelm? Be mindful of any self-criticism that might sap your energy and rob you of self-esteem. Your feelings are valid, and emotions during times of grief can run the gamut. Treat yourself the way you’d like others to treat you: with kindness, patience, humor, and love.
4. Consider professional support.
Grief is not pathological. It is a normal, largely universal, process that most of us face at various points in our lives. Although the loss will remain, the acute pain will lessen with time. Although this is a natural process, some people benefit greatly by obtaining additional support through their grief. They might attend a grief support group, or seek out individual therapy for help on working through the feelings brought about by the loss.