Having someone we deeply love and care for die can be one of the most difficult and toughest times in our life.
Often this can be magnified by how they passed over, for example it may be a cancer, or a traumatic physically shocking event such as suicide. That is not to say one way of passing over is more or less that another, but simply how grief can play out in our bodies in different ways.
Some people may feel more grief or trauma in the body due to the nature of a person’s passing such as sudden death or other circumstances. Some people may find with a long term illness or disease that they have space to come to terms with what’s happening, or some of us may find that we are still dealing with a loved ones passing months or years after it has occurred. Everyone feels and deals with grief in different ways, be it a long-term illness or disease or a sudden death.
What often happens when we know of someone’s imminent passing is that we come together to support this person and our/ their family. All the little quarrels, niggles and grievances are forgotten about with this greater purpose in mind.This is a great reminder and learning for how we all can live life all of the time, not just wanting to connect when serious illness or death is imminent, though unfortunately and sadly it often takes a passing over or a serious illness for us to do this.
But there is one thing we often forget aboutin this time in our lives, and this is ourselves. We so easily give ourselves over and busy ourselves in the affairs of others and forget to self-care, self-love and support ourselves.
We often run around making sure everyone else is okay, driving from here to there, non-stop from the minute we get up till we drop in bed at night; and of course it is absolutely natural to be there for people who need support, it needs to be done. But, why does caring stop when it comes to ourselves? And what is the quality of care that we deliver when we are we forgetting about our own well-being and exhausting ourselves? And what sort of message is this putting out to others.
By absolutely no means, does this mean that you lock the door, put your feet up ‘sorry guys no can do’ - whilst our family needs support we are there, but it does mean to we need to ask ourselves the question what quality of care are we bringing to ourselves?
Are we deeply loving ourselves and self-caring, or are we forgetting about ourselves completely? We all know that old wise saying, you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.As hard as that may in a time such as passing over and grief, it is absolutely true.
We may think, but this person and their or my family need my support just now, and it’s true they do, but what quality of support and care are we truly bringing if we let ourselves get burnt-out, exhausted and or run down?
Some very simple steps to self-caring can be asking our selves questions like;
Am I making the space to go for a walk, to exercise[r taking a moment for me, to connect to my body, to feel, process everything that’s going on?
Do I have support around me? Am I supporting myself?
Do I have people to talk to or support me?
Other things we can ask ourselves is;
Am I taking care to dress myself for the type of weather it is? And what I feel will support me that? Now this may seem crazy at a moment in time like this, truth be told it’s these simple self-caring steps that really deeply support us.
Am I going to bed when I’m tired?
Am I eating well, lovingly preparing food that my body needs just now? Having it ready in the fridge or freezer or asking someone to help me with this? So that when I come home, there is something nourishing and supportive there to eat.
We all need support at various times in our lives. As the saying goes, no man is an island, that’s not why we are here, even if many of us have the belief ‘I can do it on my own’ – we can’t - we are here to support one another, to care, love, learn, to grow and evolve.
When it comes to work, some people may find they have no issue with going to their jobs, they may actually find it supportive, some people may need to take time off, and that is absolutely okay and allowed. Often what can happen is that we feel guilt creep in where we feel we have to be at work, we can’t let people down, what will other people think of me, but really that doesn’t matter. If we need to take space off for a families serious illness or bereavement then that is okay. Most work places have a good support network in place in instances like these, where they do care about your wellbeing and want to support you. As scary as it may be it’s important to open up and talk about how we feel and the support we feel you need.
What about self-care after someone passes over and we are experiencing trauma and grief?
For many of us this can be a really tough, vulnerable and fragile time of our life, for some the toughest thing we will ever go through, where all manners of emotions and feelings are coming up, anger, rage, frustration, sadness, joy, hurt, it’s important to not bury these or push them down. To let them come up, feel all there is to feel, as often in times like these it can trigger old hurts, down to when we were kids.
A hugely self-caring choice is to talk to people, to get support, sometimes people don’t want to talk about what’s going on because it may bring up too much for them, or people don’t want to go there and that’s fine. We need to respect people’s choices. We can always get professional support if needed, from a doctor, there is nothing wrong with taking medication to support us if that’s what is needed. It is a very self-loving and responsible choice, but we also need to address, ourselves or with support, what else is going on in our lives and how we can make self-loving and self-caring choices to help us, for example sleep restfully again. We may get support from psychotherapists, psychologists, family , friends and or our partner.
It’s doesn’t mean we have to open up about everything, it can be a 5 minute conversation or an hour, it’s the process of starting to talk about how we feel and not bury it all down or pushing it away, for it will only come up with greater force down the line. Sometimes all we need, more than anything is for someone to listen, not to try and tell us what to do, judge, fix things or offer solutions, but to truly listen.
And if we are someone who knows a person who is grieving, we may not always hear back from them straight away or ever, but they will absolutely feel our support if we truly mean it, and that can mean the world to someone. We should never be to frightened to ask someone honestly how they are feeling, and mention what’s happened. We will know if they want to speak about it or not, but often it’s that caring enough to ask that people can feel, as long as our words are truly genuine.
Alongside talking, medication if needed, or getting other forms of support, there are other ways to self-care and that can be things like committing to getting up everyday at a set time, going out for a walk, exercising, even if it’s 5 minutes to start with a couple of days a week, and building it up from there. Letting yourself cry, feel sad; express all that’s going on. Taking care with food, and that might be the last thing that we want to do, it can be all too easy to want to go for chocolate or take away food, but taking our time to eat well and prepare nourish foods reaps benefits to our body and wellbeing. And know that it will be a process, feelings can come up at the most unexpected times, for example walking through a supermarket. Grief won’t disappear over night, for some it may take months, others years, but knowing that there is nothing wrong with feeling sad, it’s normal, it’s natural and part of the process.
The most important thing is do not give up on yourself, to not let yourself go. It can be all to easy to let ourselves go, to get out of a routine, to not want to get up, the can’t be bothered getting dressed, eating properly or exercising, to shutting people out or pretending we are okay, this is often when depressive thoughts can kick in.
For us to heal, through really tough times like these, is to know that there is nothing wrong with feeling all that we do, feeling sad, part of us is human after all. The key is to get support, and know that we, and our body are deeply worth and deserve loving and caring for.