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  • Tiana Jovana

Self-Care After Loss

Updated: Jun 28

"Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity. The price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve."

- Earl Grollman


In your grief, you've probably been told that self-care is important. It might have seemed like an empty platitude, or a selfish inclination at the time, but it's true: Self-care can be crucial in getting through the tough times of grief. The problem is that it can be hard to know what that means or how to start implementing it into your life. So, let's look at some ways to practice self-care after loss, without feeling guilty or selfish in the process.


There are different types of grief.

When you experience a loss, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and confused about how to cope with your grief. You might have many questions as you begin this process: What is normal? How long will I grieve? Am I doing it right? The truth is, there are many ways of grieving, each with its own unique symptoms, phases, and timelines. The best way to learn about these different types of grief is by talking with other people who have has similar experiences, such as friends or family members, or by seeking out a grief counselor.


Some people may describe their reactions as “shock and numbness” while others say they felt “anger and guilt.” Still others may say they experienced “sadness at first then acceptance later on in life." While there are no universal answers when it comes to how we all react when someone close dies suddenly or unexpectedly, there are general trends that can help guide us through the process until we find what feels right to us.


Grief is a part of your life, it’s not your whole life.

Grief is a natural process, and something you'll likely experience time and time again throughout your life, but it will come in different forms and degrees depending on the circumstances. Grieving can be difficult because it forces us to face aspects of ourselves, we don't necessarily want to look at. But this introspection can also help us grow as people and connect with others who are experiencing similar things. The pain involved with grieving may seem insurmountable at times, but there are many ways that grief can nourish and strengthen your life as well. Taking time to reflect openly on your grief is itself a form of self-care because it allows you to feel your very valid feelings, and therefore find the strength to eventually move past the most painful parts of your loss.


The days ahead.

● You will have good days and bad days.

● Don't beat yourself up if you have a bad day. That's normal. Listen to your body because an emotional toll can manifest physically. If you need to take a walk, do that. Conversely, if you need to stay in bed, that’s OK too.

● Don't forget to celebrate the good days. It's important to acknowledge them because they are also part of your healing process.

● Don't forget to acknowledge the bad days as well—they're a part of that same process and acknowledging that is important. Try to set an intention before you go to sleep after you’ve had a bad day that the next day will be better.


It's okay to take time to mourn.

Mourning is a natural process that can help you to heal and move forward. It helps you to honor the person you lost, as well as acknowledge their absence. Mourning may seem like a luxury, but it's an important part of self-care after a loss—and it's okay to take time away from your usual routine in order to mourn someone who meant so much to you.


You don't have to be strong all the time.

It is okay if you are not always strong. It is okay if you cry, and it is okay if you don't feel like your normal self. It is also okay to be happy and laugh! You have lost a loved one, and the pain of their absence will not instantly disappear from your life after the dust has settled. Don’t be afraid to let yourself go through all of these emotions, as they are all part of the healing process. Your strength is greater than your loss. It may not always feel that way, but as you allow yourself the space to grieve, this will become more evident.


Your feelings might change over time.

How you feel after someone passes can change over time. You might feel angry and sad, but then you might feel happy again. You might feel guilty, but then you might feel relieved. You might even think that everything is going well for a little while, only to fall apart again when something triggers your emotions. It’s completely normal to experience these ups and downs as your grief process continues. It’s important to identify what you’re feeling and how it is manifesting in your body. There are so many healing practices that you can access either online or in your area that can help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster that often washes over you after experiencing loss. Tapping, meditation, prayer, being in nature, martial arts, painting, and more: these are all things that people have found helpful to their grieving process and feeling like themselves again.


Self-care also includes asking for help when you need it, so don't hesitate to reach out to a family member or friend.

There are a few things to keep in mind when asking for help. First, it's okay to ask for help. You aren't being selfish or showing weakness by doing so. In fact, it's actually quite the opposite: you're showing strength and courage by admitting that sometimes you need help. We all do.


Second, remember that asking for help does not have to be difficult or scary. If you don't know where to begin your search for assistance with tasks like cooking meals and cleaning the house, try visiting a local community center or church activity center near you; many centers offer programs specifically designed for people who have recently lost someone close to them.


Grieving is hard work and it's important to give yourself space to grieve.

Grieving is difficult and it's important to give yourself permission to go through this, but it's also important to eventually move on and find joy again in your life. Grief is a process that takes time, but ultimately losing someone you love does not define who you are or what your future will look like.


The most important thing to remember as you go through this process is that grief isn't linear; there isn't one set path for how long the grieving process lasts, nor is there one correct way of doing it. In fact, many people don't even experience all five stages of grief—some may skip certain stages altogether. There are no timelines for when grief ends either: Sometimes it can take years before someone feels ready to move forward with their lives again; other times they might find themselves content again within days or months of losing someone close.


When it’s all said and done…

Go at your own pace but remember that there's still a lot to be garnered from your grief. Loss is difficult, but the pain shouldn’t control you. Self-care during this time is not only important for your mental well-being, but also for your physical health. I always say, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and if you allow your loss to deplete your cup, the stress of your loss can take a toll on your total body. Not to mention, you’ll have nothing left in your cup for yourself or your other loved ones who are still with you.


At the end of the day, take care of yourself. Allow others to care for you. Seek help when you need it.


Photos by Liza Summer from Pexels



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