BY GEORGENA EGGLESTON
If you ask people who have lost a loved one what they want the most, the answer is usually for the pain to go away. Unfortunately, grief is a process and the amount of time it takes to get through it varies from person to person and depends on the tools they employ. After losing my brother, father-in-law, mother, father, and teenaged son, as well as my business and my home, in just three and a half years, I learned that grief takes times.
Recognize the signs
Repressed grief can also generate a host of longer lasting physical, social, and mental problems, including anxiety, nausea, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and even depression—all of which can become worse if repressed. Signs of repressed grief include:
- Awakening each night at 2 a.m.
- Feeling a constant fatigue.
- Feeling unfocused and distracted
- Being uncomfortable alone
- Discounting happy moments; thinking it’s wrong to feel happy.
- Having a hard time forming new relationships
- Staying overly busy to avoid feeling pain.
What people in grief universally wish for is relief. They want to wake up and feel refreshed again. They want the clouds to brighten and the burden to be lifted. However, it’s not wise to deny or rush the grieving process.
Make a conscious decision to grieve
What helps is to make a conscious choice to grieve. If you suppress your grief, you actually delay moving through it, which often creates additional problems. The best “short cut” is to go through it, and here are suggestions that may help you through the beginning stages:
- Take the first 90 days off.
- Put everything on hold for a year. This is not the time to move, take a new job, get married, get divorced, or get into a new relationship. Just wait.
- Let others take care of you. When people express their sympathy, often they will offer to do something for you. Take them up on it. Delegate the work that needs doing.
- When people ask how they can help, tell them “restaurant gift cards, please.”
- Carefully select others to talk to about your experience and what you’re going through.
- Allow the fatigue and the overwhelming roller coaster of feelings. Don’t resist. If you get tired, rest.
- Simply do the basics. Don’t complicate your life.
- Just say ‘no’ to social engagements you’re not ready to experience.
Experiencing the grieving process allows you to move past the feelings and move on to a new life. Only after grieving can you create a new relationship at a deeper level with yourself or the person who is gone. Whatever the loss is that you experienced, you will feel better again. This is the shift that needs to happen and the way to get there is to emphasize self-care. For more information visit www.beyondyourgrief.com
Fourteen ways to nurture yourself while grieving:
When grieving, ask yourself the following: “What is the most kind and loving thing I can be, do, or gift myself in this moment?” Here are some possibilities:
- A cup of tea. A glass of water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon.
- A walk outside to feel your bare feet on the grass, the dirt, the sand.
- One minute of peace and quiet as you turn away from the computer and stretch.
- Being grateful for what you are doing, or for where you are right now.
- Gratitude for someone or something beautiful right in front of you.
- Noticing your breathing. Exhaling like a lion and then allowing a breath to come.
- Going to the bathroom when you first feel the urge.
- Take a drive. Feel your hips in the car seat, your back supporting you, and take note and pride as you place your hands on an imaginary clock at four and eight on the steering wheel. Get in the groove. Drive for a while.
- Being kind to your body by asking someone to help carry or move something.
- Read a book.
- Play with a child.
- Take a walk or walking the dog
- Tell your story of loss to a trusted colleague or family member.
- Watch the clouds, trees, flowers, and people outside the window.
Remember that grieving is a process and that you will get through it. Just take whatever time you need and be good to yourself along the way.
Georgena Eggleston, MA, Trauma Specialist and Grief Guide, studied the Rubenfield Synergy Method and became a certified synergist. The author of A New Mourning: Discovering the Gifts in Grief, she teaches mindful grieving and intentional mourning to help others move beyond their grief. She is the mother of two sons and loves yoga and flower arranging.