Managing The Awful

This week marks the second anniversary of my Mom’s passing, so naturally there has been reflection on all the feelings in those first few days of loss. The whole experience has taught me a deep and profound empathy for anyone going through the throes of what I call “the awful”…..that period of time where the loss is so incredibly raw, your world is numb and you wonder if anything will ever matter at all again. When one of my Coworkers lost her father and began trying to cope, my heart just ached for her at what I remember feeling during my time of loss. I tried to remember the things that helped ground me during that time of chaos. Looking back, these are the things that helped me recuperate in those initial weeks of extreme sadness. I hope that you will consider these important things to remember should you find yourself stuck in that initial storm of despair.

•Self-Care is so very important. Make sure you get enough sleep and do something to treat yourself. Grief can cause extreme exhaustion, so book a spa appointment, take a weekend trip, just find something to do for yourself that will help nurture your soul. Find time to exercise or take a walk on beautiful day. About 6 weeks after Mom passed away, I booked a day at the Spa and that was the first time I felt like I was able to relax and reflect on my loss.

•Seek out information on the grief process, so you can know what to expect. Grief is a wicked emotion because the slightest thing can throw you into a Grief attack, where you can’t control your tears. You may have heard about the “Stages of Grief”. Well, let me be the first to tell you those are NOT linear stages where you finish one and move on to the next. It’s more like a roller coaster bouncing between all the stages at any given time. You may have a few good days where you are feeling more positive, then all of a sudden something triggers the grief and you are back in a puddle of tears, hiding from the world. That’s normal for grief. The best thing you can do is feel what’s in your heart and lean in to the ebb and flow. Shutting down those feelings when they surface is the worst thing you can do because sooner or later they force themselves to be recognized, mostly in very unpleasant ways.

•Find an outlet to cope with what has happened. Whether it’s asking for extra support from a beloved friend, joining a grief support group, seeking the advice of a licensed professional, talking to your church pastor, or simply keeping a journal. Find ways to cope healthfully through all the unpleasant emotions. I kept a journal, leaned on my husband and beloved friends, and even took time out to color. It was one of those grown up coloring books, but it felt good to reconnect to some kind of creativity within myself.

•Talk about your loved one to others. I love being with people who knew my Mother well. It’s so very healing to share stories or to guess how she might have reacted to certain things. My Dad and I are always sharing stories about what she would have said, etc. I also like to tease him when she wouldn’t be pleased with something he did. We usually end up laughing about many silly things. And laughter feels so good during grief. I’ve said it before, but It’s in the storytelling where memories come alive, hearts begin to heal and love lives on.

Grief has no time limit, but what you do during that time is very important in starting the healing process. I am certainly no expert and I don’t expect all of these steps to work for everyone. However, if even one bit of information has helped you feel less alone on your journey of grief, then I consider it well worth sharing.

Please feel free to post anything that may have helped you cope in those first few weeks without your loved one in the comments below.

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