Saturday Morning Message: Self Care While Grieving
Author: Carol Lane
Grieving the loss of a loved one takes a toll on our emotions, body, and mind. During these times, the most important thing we can do is to take care of ourselves as best we can. In today's message, survivors share what they do to take care of themselves. As you read these responses, please feel free to adopt any of these ideas. Sharing what works for us is healing as well. When we walk and talk together, we heal. There were so many replies this week that it was decided to use two weeks for the same question which is: How Do I Take Care of Myself While I'm Grieving? Continue to send in your ideas about self-care to firstname.lastname@example.org We will then have a long list of strategies to try when we need comfort. Thank you to all who wrote in this week.
From Mary, surviving mother of Joshua: I started squeezing citrus fruits in the manual juicer each day. It gets some of the frustration out and replenishes my body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy. If we go out to eat a meal, I now automatically eat half and take the other half home for a meal the next day. I have been trying to find the things that I can control. I find going through my house and cleaning the cupboards and closets to be very therapeutic. I find items, which are none of my son's things, to take to a charity. Also, the sleep issue...When I can't deal with the grief anymore...that is the new clue to go to sleep. I tell myself that maybe then I will "see" Josh in my dreams.
From Lurlene and Pat, surviving parents of Kelly: The way we have dealt with sleep problems is when we find ourselves thinking of our loved one and cannot sleep, regardless of the time of night it might be, and we get up and read a book or watch TV. The main thing we have found to deal with the majority of issues is to stay busy or occupied with something. We have found that idleness adds to our problem. Our association with TAPS and peer association has helped greatly.
From Nancy, surviving mother of Kale: The memory loss and lack of focus is still with me. It takes me so long to remember things. I hold my cell phone and stare at it and wonder how to make it work, or who was I going to call anyway. I keep lists, sticky notes, all over, trying to prod my brain to stay on task. I get overwhelmed or anxious so much more easily than I ever used to. I am trying to delegate more and not take on so much. Asking for help is such a hard thing to do when you are so used to doing it all and handling it all. Now I am eating a healthy diet and focusing on improving my body. I am going to counseling with the VA. I found keeping a journal to pour out the deepest feelings and memories is helpful because there are so few places to go to where you can get it out of your head and heart. The Gold Star Parents facebook page or others out there like it, are also helpful to connect with others in similar circumstances. I came up with a plan for the first Christmas he was gone from us by making a plan to give service to others. We made 24 bags to give to the homeless. Twenty-four is the age Kale would have been. He died 17 days before his 24th birthday. The bags were filled with socks, Chap Stick, some snacks, etc. I knew the sadness I would feel would be overwhelming if I did not find a way to fill it with something good. Be kind to yourself. This journey is a hard one.
From Mary, surviving mother of Christopher: I try to be home when the tsunami of grief hits. I find if I let the tears flow either for a few minutes or more, I feel some relief and comfort afterwards. My coworkers were by my side through this, so if I am at work, I try to hold it back, but still the tears that flow comfort me. Allowing myself to feel all the emotions helped me take the next step on this very painful journey. Moving forward, never moving on has become my mantra. I can't move on as that would mean leaving him behind, but I will move forward with him always by my side.
From Rose, surviving spouse of Troy: It is hard, but I have to learn to take care of myself, because I have two children depending on me. When I'm sad and I need to talk to my husband, I write him a letter telling him how I feel and what my children and I did that day. I know he won't be able to read it, but it helps me to let out what I feel, because I used to tell him everything. I also read 30 minutes before I go to bed to help me relax. I look around in my room to look at his picture and listen to his voice on my cellphone. I also think about our good memories together and that helps me get through a night and day.
From Linda, surviving mother of Gene: There are days that I do for others and those are the best. I continue to work at Warriors Walk in Fort Stewart. I take care of the trees planted in honor of each of the fallen from that base. Many families live far away and can't come as often as they would like. I feel this is the "job" Gene left for me to do. But those days when I can't get up or can't seem to stop the tears, I write. Some are poems. Some are just things I would say to Gene if he were here. The writing seems to help me. I get to say all of those things on paper that I can't say out loud. I get to cry, scream and, yes, even cuss on paper. So often when I have finished writing it feels as if I have let go of some of the issues I carry. They do come back and when they do, I write. No one sees what I write. I don't let anyone read it. It is just for me. My release.