Pampering yourself during the grieving period is not a luxury, it is a necessity. When you are grieving a loss there is nothing more important than taking care of yourself. Grief places enormous stress on your body, mind, heart, and soul.
Grief takes a tremendous toll on the body. Besides feeling exhausted, you may have some of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, chest pain, loss of appetite, upset stomach, and a weakening of your immune system.
The most basic recommendation for self-care is to try to eat a balance diet and get enough sleep. Easier said than done! Insomnia (not being able to sleep) is common among those who are bereaved. You may find that as soon as you get into bed, your mind races, you toss and turn and just can't fall asleep, or when you finally fall asleep you wake up several hours later and toss and turn some more.
There are many ways you can try to address insomnia. Many people find that the body awareness exercise (i.e. yoga) helps them relax before they go to sleep. Another helpful idea is to spend the last half hour before going to bed engaged in quiet activity, such as listening to relaxing music, taking a bath, drinking herbal tea, eating a bowl of cherries or a bowl of cereal with a low sugar content.
Eating a balanced diet presents its challenges. You may find that you've lost your appetite, or all you eat is junk food. If this is the case, have healthy snacks on hand like veggies, fruit, or granola bars. Try to eat regularly, even if you just eat small amounts, and try to include nutritious foods.
Exercise is an excellent stress-reliever. Go for walks. Get out of the house at least once a day. It can also provide a temporary distraction from emotional turmoil boosts your energy and combats fatigue and depression.
Be careful not to over-indulge in drugs or alcohol. When you are in any pain, it can be very tempting to use alcohol or drugs to numb your pain or to alter your state of consciousness. If you believe you are turning to drugs or alcohol in order to avoid your grief, I encourage you to seek professional help. You do not have to deal with this alone.
Physical touch is comforting and healing. Welcome hugs from family and friends. It is very important to care for yourself. Looking after your physical, emotional and spiritual needs will help you get through this difficult time.
“Taking care of you- begins with loving yourself.”
Margaret Anne Yost nursed for 35 years, working mostly on medical floors. She has journeyed with many clients who were dying, and she tried to comfort their families during this difficult time. She has completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education.
Returning back to school she completed classes from the Red River College in the areas of Gerontology, Bereavement, Death and Dying. She was enrolled eight years in lay ministry training. At present, she enjoys her role at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Yorkton in the area of parish work. For the past ten years she has also been employed at Bailey’s Funeral Home working in the area of Continuing Care.
Comments and articles may be forwarded by mail to: Margaret Anne Yost, P.0. Box 554 Melville, Sask. S0A 2P0 .
Or phone 1-306-621-9877 (9 am-5 pm) or at home 1-306-728-4744 (evenings).