The death of a loved one throws our world into chaos, it shakes the very foundations of our body and soul. Death affects us in every which way, it wreaks havoc with all our bodily functions and we cannot eat or sleep properly, we may suffer palpitations and anxiety attacks. Our heads feel full of cotton wool, and we may find that we just cannot concentrate or focus as clearly as we used to do.
GRIEF is exhausting. We may find that we are dragging ourselves through each day and not really able to engage as fully. We may feel that everything is surreal, life has suddenly taken on a dreamlike or nightmarish quality. We may feel like we are existing rather than living. It is no surprise that we feel drained and sapped of energy if we are not able to have sufficient sleep and our appetite is all over the place.
GRIEF can feel like a physical illness. We may lose a lot of weight due to stress and not eating, we feel tired all the time, our immune system is lowered and we may find we are suffering more colds and flu. We actually do feel ill.
GRIEF can mimic a mental illness such as depression, we may feel so low and even not want to carry on living when a dear loved one has recently died. This is a normal reaction to losing someone we are attached to and love. It can have a very debilitating effect on us.
Therefore, it is so important that we take care of our bodies as if we are physically ill. We need to remember that we are going through a very stressful and upsetting period and are feeling vulnerable and wobbly.
Here are some ways to take care of ourselves:
- Try to rest as much as possible (especially important if we cannot sleep adequately)
- Try to eat small, nutritious meals regularly. These may include bowls of soup or buttered toast. We may feel comforted by our favourite snacks at this time
- Going for a gentle walk in a local park can help to give us a change of surroundings and some fresh air. We may find some distraction watching the world go by
- Gentle exercise can help release endorphins to make us feel better in general. Exercise can also help us to sleep naturally
- Some people feel relaxation exercises are helpful. There are apps we can download to aid us in daily relaxation. Also, Mindfulness can be a way to aid our bodies and mind; there may be classes in your local area. Some people find yoga classes helpful too, or Tai Chi
- When we feel more energy we can engage in our favourite hobbies which may provide a welcome distraction for a while from our thoughts and feelings
- We all have our favourite ways to switch off and relax. This may be a candle lit bath, a walk in the countryside or a good book. Watching our favourite TV programmes can help pass some time
- Talking and having the company of people we cherish can help us to feel less alone and vulnerable. We don’t have to talk about our feelings, we may just need the distraction of everyday chat and normality for a little time
Remember that grief takes its toll upon us is in many ways. Mourning can be a laborious and lengthy process. We need a balance of a time to express our feelings, a time to get on with our every day chores and time out for distraction (this could be hours of Netflix).
Grief sends us into mourning and we need time to process and make some recovery so that we can feel more resilient and able to cope with life without our loved one in it.
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