“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
In the past few weeks many people in my life have lost loved ones – parents, friends, and partners. After sharing about my daughter’s recent car accident, many people shared with me that their children or family members had died in car accidents. The realization that my daughter could have died invoked a sadness that knit itself into the texture of my days and my heart broke for all the people grieving new and old losses.
There is a depth of understanding you share with others when you have experienced the death of a loved one that opens your heart with profound compassion to those suffering around you. Having lost my father twenty years ago had a huge imprint on my heart and now witnessing my mother struggle with dementia has me grieving daily.
It is amazing how grief can permeate your existence, like dark ink dropping onto the fabric of your day. Grief can be a very isolating experience, leaving you feeling vulnerable and unable to interact in normal activities.
And yet there is no more important time for self-nurturing than when you are grieving. And although it is a challenge, it is essential to find gentle ways to care for yourself during these difficult times.
Here are some ideas to nurture yourself in times of of grief:
- Start by looking at your self-nurturing practice to see if there are any activities you can continue. Having some connection to your normal schedule can be very grounding.
- If you take a walk each day, meditate, or write in a journal try to continue doing so, even if you need to decrease the amount of time you spend.
- Bring mindfulness to the choices you make about what to eat. Choose healthy food filled with nutrients and energy and minimize food and drink that deplete you.
- Be compassionate to yourself, affirm your feelings and remind yourself you are not alone.
- Identify a few activities that feel deeply nurturing. Perhaps walking in nature, talking to a supportive friend or loved one, petting your animal, reading an inspiring book or appreciating music, art, or beauty.
- Encourage yourself to engage in these nurturing activities a few times during the week and notice how you feel after. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to go out and do anything when you are overwhelmed with grief, but most of us feel better for doing it.
- Finally, create a way to honor and celebrate the person who died. You can create a ritual, write a love letter to the person, attend a memorial service or dedicate some practice in your day to remembering the person.
Know that each of us grieves in our own way and in our own time. Continue to offer yourself compassion and kindness as your experience unfolds and remember that grief can come in waves and sometimes feel so intense that it can takes our breath away. Give yourself permission to breathe deeply and honor your experience and find comfort in Khalil Gibran’s wisdom, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
May you find gentle ways to nurture yourself when you are grieving as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Please share how you have nurtured yourself through grief or honored a beloved one who has died in the comments below.
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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