Grief is an all-too-familiar feeling during this period, and even more so than usual. Grief is hard. It is personal. It knows no bounds, does not come in any particular shape or size, and there is no one right way to get through it (if one ever truly does).
To all those who are grieving, I see you, and I am with you. I urge you to take care of yourself and remember that you are not alone in this. We won’t go into a full-fledged therapy session here, but I can share some ways to care for yourself during this tough time and express my solidarity.
Here are five ways to practice self-care while grieving:
Connection is always key; even when it is simply being in a room with another human and not saying a word.
Bereavement groups are incredibly helpful and very often underutilized. To be in a group of others that are going through similar phases of grief can be invaluable to your healing and provide you with a built-in support network. Having that connection and knowing you’re not alone can really help you embrace your feelings rather than push them away.
Connect to something greater. Get some fresh air. Take walks. Connect to your higher power. Do volunteer work.
Connect to your feelings by journaling. You can write letters to your loss, journal about the loss, or express your thoughts and feelings about grief in the way that is most comfortable for you. The act of letting the thoughts and feelings flow out of you can be a healthy release.
Connect to what is good about life. Watch your favorite funny movies or comedians. Look at cute pictures of babies and puppies. Think of a time your loved one made you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, they say. So, even if it is only for a moment, let yourself connect to what is good in life.
I am sure by now you are sensing a theme. You are insightful and would be correct. We care for ourselves by connecting. If you are curious about some of the scientific research related to the protective and healing effects of connection during loss, I have linked a great article below. Most of the time, you may not want to connect. You may lack the energy or find it is easier to stay home. I encourage you to reframe connection as caring for yourself with the possibility that in doing so, you may feel better sooner.
“Psychosocial factors that appear to help buffer the negative effects associated with interpersonal loss include social support (186–188), secure attachment style (46, 189), positive emotions (129, 188, 190), optimism (191), cognitive flexibility (including positive reappraisal and acceptance) (192), and spirituality, including religiosity (193).” (Seiler et al., 2020)
Frontiers | The Psychobiology of Bereavement and Health: A Conceptual Review From the Perspective of Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression
Unfortunately, no one possesses a cure for grief. The only remedy is to go through it. Just know that we do not have to go through it alone. Reach out to your local counselor for support or find your nearest grief support group if you are struggling.
Encouraging Results through honesty and empowerment.
Seiler, A., von Känel, R., & Slavich, G. M. (2020). The psychobiology of bereavement and health: A conceptual review from the perspective of social signal transduction theory of depression. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.565239