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Care for Yourself While Grieving
Reactions to Grief
Care for Yourself While Grieving
Guidelines for Family and Friends
Self-Care Tips While Grieving
Don't set a timetable for your grief; there is no timeline for grief. You will always miss your loved one. The feels will not always be this intense though.
No one grieves exactly the same way. Do not listen when people say things such as, "My aunt was over the loss of her husband a year later. You should be done grieving by now."
Be easy on yourself. Grieving is hard work. Exhaustion is a common response. Be sure to get extra sleep and take breaks.
Exercise. Physical activity is a great way to release grief. Take a walk, try yoga, join a gym.
Nourish your body. People tend to overeat or not eat at all while grieving. Take the time to eat healthy. Even when not hungry, try to eat small meals.
Reach out. Even though you are the one grieving and friends and family should be reaching out to you, your grief makes them uncomfortable. Call a friend and schedule some time with him/her.
Give permission. Friends and family may avoid talking about your loved one, as they fear that it will upset you. Bring up your loved one in conversation - say his/her name, share your memories. This allows friends and family to know that it is ok to talk about him/her.
Express your grief. Don't try to stuff your tears. The more that you hold them in, the more intense the emotions are when they do come out. Set up an intentional "grief time." For example, start your day off by spending some time looking at pictures of your loved one. People who set up an intentional grief time have reported that they are more in control of their grief-related emotions throughout of the day.
Write it out. While grieving, many people continually replay the "would of, could of, should of" in their head. Write out these thoughts. Write a letter to your loved one and express what you wish you had done differently. Writing it down may help to get it out of replay in your head. (See our information about
. You will receive a packet from Lourdes Hospice in the mail that explains the available bereavement support groups and schedules. Being a part of a support group and being with others who are grieving will validate your own grief process while giving you suggestions on how to help yourself while you are grieving.
Make time for yourself
. Caregiving is exhausting work. While caregiving you may have put yourself on the back burner. Put yourself first by scheduling appointments that you have postponed, get a massage, get a haircut, go to the dentist, take a mini-vacation - re-fuel your caregiving tank.
Laugh. You may read this and say to yourself, "How do I possibly laugh and enjoy life again after I have lost someone so important to me?" You have to remember that your loved one would want you to enjoy the rest of your life. Many people feel guilty about enjoying life after they have lost a loved one. There are still moments to be enjoyed and your loved one would want you to enjoy them!
Ask for help. After your loved one died you may have heard many people say, "Call me if you need anything," but then they never called to check in on you later. Take them up on the offer and ask for help, or to talk.
Avoid self-medicating. Although alcohol/ drugs may help to take the edge off they can also make you more emotional and/or irrational. If you feel that you need something to take the edge off your grief, make an appointment with your doctor. Some people do use prescribed sleeping aides, anti-anxiety and/ or anti-depressant medications to help them through their grief.
Do not allow yourself to be overmedicated. If you do visit your doctor after the death of your loved one, remember that crying is a normal part of the grief process. You know yourself and your body, not everyone needs medication after the loss of a loved one. There is no "anti-grief" medication. Sadness is not depression. With sadness you still feel moments of enjoyment and have hope. With depression you feel hopeless and have no enjoyment over a long period of time. After the loss of a loved one most people are extremely sad, not depressed, and therefore do not need medication. If you become overmedicated and do not allow yourself to express you grief, it will come out eventually- possibly years down the round.
Read a book about grief
. Grief is a confusing experience for most people. Reading a book about another person's grief journey may help to validate and normalize your own experience.
You are not alone. Remember that if you need to reach out, Lourdes Hospice Bereavement Team is here to help. You can sign up for a support group by calling 607-584-9184.
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