Saturday Morning Message: Practicing Self Care
Author: Carol Lane
This man is doing one of the first things I do after I get up in the morning — have a cup of coffee and try to reflect on my plans for the day. An article from the TAPS archives titled Open Your Heart to Healing: Emotional Engagement in Your Own Life by Emily Muñoz gives a list of ways to help practice self care both physically and mentally. In addition to this article, there were several responses that came in this week that might add more strategies to the way we can keep ourselves healthy and practice self-care.
The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger. I am always looking for questions for future messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing email@example.com. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the week’s Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send your response to me by Tuesday morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.
Mother of Byron
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
This week’s question came from a TAPS Care Group. It is: What was or were the kindest things said or done for you that pierced your grief fog early in your loss? It might be good to share these thoughts not only because they helped us, but also to add to ways we can help others in their grief. We look forward to your answers.
♫ Song for the Week
The song this week comes from Cheryl, mother of Jack. She wrote that one of the songs that lifts her is Never Alone by Barlow Girl. Cheryl wrote, “It talks about how my loved one is by me in my heart.”
If you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song distinctive. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. You can sign up for Spotify for free to listen to the playlist.The playlist is called Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Songs of Love and Remembrance. I often listen to it and think of our TAPS family while I am on the computer.
Answers from Survivors
Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: How do you practice self care in your life?
If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
From Winona, wife of Cliff: How do I practice self care? By participating in the things that bring me joy. Recently I found a group that meets to kayak on our local lakes once a week in the evenings. I have discovered that it helps me relax and I have made new friends. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I simply opt out of the activities and rest at home.
From Cheryl, mother of Jack: I try to go on walks (I have a dog that keeps reminding me to do that). I go to a fitness center for a Pilates class three times a week. I try to make good food choices. I take vitamins and supplements. I try to have devotions when I get up in the morning. As I do that, I try to list about seven things I am grateful for. That does help a lot. I try to get eight hours of sleep, but it never works — probably a combination of grief and aging. I try to read every day — a fiction book, somehow helps turn my mind off the things I am going through in life and relaxes me. I try to reach out to others everyday in whatever way I can, greeting a neighbor on my walk, maybe a phone call or text. As far as my walks and my sleep, I wear a fitness watch that helps me strive for things I need to do, walk enough and sleep enough. Sometimes music is a big help to me — I might find nature sounds, or some 50s or 60s tunes, sometimes worship music. I try to visit a nearby lake sometimes and it shifts my vision of life to ground me. I visit my grief counselor every month. Of course, I don't always get these things done, but I will always attempt to. If I do not try to take care of myself, I won't be able to help others. Since we have been broken, we will always have to try to fix it.
From Betty, mother of Michael: Self-care has taken many forms over the two years since my son’s s death. At times a hard run to stimulate endorphins has helped me push through a hard day. Other times it is simply curling up with Michael’s 85-pound “puppy,” holding her because I can no longer hold him. I also give myself the “gift” of connection with the TAPS family by attending events and participating with the online community to nourish and replenish my leaking heart.
I have discovered there is no magic formula of self-care in this rollercoaster grief journey, but I have learned to listen to my heart. Somedays I want to lose myself in the photo albums that trace Michel’s life. Other days I know that activity would send me to a pint of ice cream with a spoon (rather than a hard run).
For me, self-care begins with self-awareness — knowing my boundaries and knowing my heart. Then, God-awareness— remembering that He is perpetually covering me with His mercy and love.