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Cucumber Slices, Prayer and To Do Lists

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Everyone could use a little self-care in their life. The picture that comes to my mind when I hear the term self-care is of a woman, wrapped in a fluffy terry cloth robe, reclining on her back with cucumber slices placed over her eyes. Her face is covered with a pink cream. Soft music is in the background. She looks relaxed. What do you imagine when you hear the term self-care?

When death has invited grief into your life, how do you practically apply self-care while chaos seems to be the norm? Even more so, what does grief self-care look like?

Self-care is so much more than a spa treatment and massages. Self-care is the care a person gives to herself or himself that promotes and maintains health and helps cope with stress. Most professionals agree that there are 6-7 areas of life that benefit from self-care. These areas are emotional, physical, mental, social, spiritual, practical and professional. Basically, your entire being will benefit from self-care.

When you are living with grief in your life, each of these areas can be attended to in a gentle and loving manner. It is easy to judge yourself while living with grief, because you may feel you are not doing it right. Remember, there is no wrong way or right way to grieve. The same is true for self-care as well. You can pay attention to these seven areas of your life and attend to the needs you have and do it in a way that feels right to you. In reality, you are the only one who knows what you need. Friends, neighbors, co-workers and family have all retreated back into their normal life and daily routines and expect you to do the same. However, your normal has been gripped in the grasp of grief and it is brutal on your emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, social and professional life. You can live with grief in your life and you might want to include some self-care routines to assist you.

What is grief self-care and what does it look like? Grief self-care is anything you need to do to nourish the areas that I previously spoke about. It is not a selfish act to benefit from any self-care act that benefits you in your grief. By being in tune with your needs you will be better able to attend to those needs and you will have the energy it takes to face your grief and live it in your life. Let’s take a look at the seven areas and fine tune the care to specific grief needs.

Emotional self-care is noticing, feeling and processing your emotions in a healthy manner. In grief you want to feel your emotions when they arise and not ignore or block them. You do this by allowing them to exist and let them flow. You can journal about them, talk about them or be still and ponder them. You may need to cry, scream, or laugh. Most importantly, feel them.

Physical self-care is anything that pertains to your body and its physicality. In grief, your bodies are stressed. Poor diet, poor sleep, poor hygiene and poor movement all attribute to the overall stress the body goes through during grief. Hydrate your body with water, sleep when you can, rest if you feel the need. Moving your body is a great way to relieve stress. Also, taking regular baths and showers promotes physical well-being.

Mental self-care is what you can do that will stimulate your mind. This is hard to do because often grief brain is the real deal. Your brain may feel fuzzy and thinking coherently is a challenge. I’m a huge proponent for list making. A list can keep your grief brain on track when there are things that must get done. That “To Do List” helps you remember. The check marks remind you that the task was completed. You may want to read about grief. Once again journaling is a way to stimulate your mind. Listening to podcast or music may be soothing. Meditation can give your mind a break from having to think.

Social self-care is how you will nurture relationships. When you experience the death of a loved one, your relationships change. You will soon learn who is good for you and your grief and who is not a positive person for you. Here is where you can decline invitations to “get out of the house”. Choose to be around those who are willing to be with you in your grief. Not everyone is suited to give you space to grieve and it is okay to decline their friendship.

Spiritual self-care are those practices that soothe your soul. The death of a loved one is often a time of spiritual dilemma. For some, a death challenges their ideas of faith, afterlife and corporate religion. Some find great solace in their faith and gain strength from it. Whether you are a faith-based believer or a private spiritual person, you may feel the need to nourish your soul in your tried-and-true ways or venture out and explore other means of soul care. Spirit care is the practices you choose that connects to your inner spirit. Prayer, meditation, walking in nature, reading spiritual writings or sitting quietly are all practices that will connect your spirit to God, Creator, or a higher power.

Practical self-care is anything that fulfills core needs and reduces stress in your life. These are things that will create a sense of calm and control. Let’s face it, when you are grieving a lot of tasks get pushed to the side. If you cook a meal, fix enough for two meals. Try to keep things organized and picked up. Maybe you hire a housekeeper for a few months. Asking for practical help from a trusted friend could lighten the load on your already stressed life.

Professional self-care will add a dimension of balanced support while you make the transition back to work. Naturally your co workers will wonder how best to approach you and you may need to be open and tell them what you need from them while you are at work. Speak with your boss and determine a plan as to how to handle the days where you are a little out of sorts. Communication here is the key.

Grief self-care is paramount at this point in your life. You probably already have realized that no two days are alike while you are living with grief. Being gentle with yourself is the best self-care available to you. You may feel the need to focus on different areas on different days. Determine if a flexible self-care plan works best for you or will you need to be a little more rigid in order for you to indulge yourself and practice your own personal self-care. The main thing is to give yourself at least 20-30 minutes a day for a little special time that is all about you.


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