Imagine life as a rollercoaster ride. It’s full of unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, exhilaration and fear. Among the spectrum of emotions we face, grief is perhaps one of the most profound and unsettling. We often feel at a loss in its presence, uncertain how to navigate the murky waters of sorrow and loss.
Grief is a natural response to loss, an emotional manifestation of the empty space left by something or someone we held dear. Its intensity can vary depending on how significant the loss was to us. People often equate grief with the loss of a loved one, but it can also be experienced in response to other life-changing events such as a breakup, losing a job, or a shift in one’s personal identity. The complex feelings of grief can leave us feeling lost, unsure of how to move forward. This is why understanding it is the first step in healing.
Different Stages of Grief
In our attempt to understand grief, it is beneficial to familiarise ourselves with the widely accepted concept of the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first proposed these stages, providing a framework for understanding how people process grief. It’s important to remember that these stages aren’t linear, and everyone experiences grief uniquely.
Why Self-Care Matters in Grief
Grief is a deeply personal experience, but one aspect is almost universal: its impact on our well-being, leading us to self-care’s significance during these trying times.
Physiological Implications of Grief
One might wonder why self-care is so crucial during grief. Well, the journey of grief isn’t solely emotional. It can manifest physically, too. Chronic stress associated with prolonged grief can disrupt sleep, affect appetite, and weaken the immune system, leaving us susceptible to illnesses.
Psychological Implications of Grief
Additionally, grief doesn’t just weigh heavily on our bodies but on our minds as well. Extended periods of grief can lead to mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. It can also affect cognitive functions, making concentration and decision-making more difficult.
Practical Self-Care Tips During Grief
Recognising the complex interplay between our physical and emotional health during grief, it’s crucial to take steps towards self-care proactively.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
The first step in this journey is to acknowledge your feelings. It’s perfectly okay to grieve. In fact, it’s essential. The path to healing is often paved with pain, but it’s a pain that we must allow ourselves to feel. This includes giving ourselves permission to cry, to feel sad, and to express our feelings in whatever way feels right.
Grieving is an intensely personal journey, but it doesn’t mean we have to face it alone. It’s important to reach out to loved ones, consider joining a support group, or seek guidance from a grief counsellor. External support can offer a safe and understanding space to express emotions, share experiences, and play a vital role in helping us navigate through the grieving process. On significant occasions like birthdays, holidays, and other events throughout the year, the pain may intensify. However, there are ways to ease these moments. Memorial Christmas tree decorations, for instance, are a meaningful way to remember your loved one and keep their presence close during the Christmas period.
Maintain Physical Wellbeing
Self-care during grief extends to looking after our physical well-being, too. While it might be hard to focus on this aspect during times of distress, it’s worth remembering that our physical and mental health are interconnected.
Regular physical exercise might seem daunting in grief, but it’s a powerful self-care tool. It helps release endorphins, our body’s natural mood elevators, which can bring about a sense of well-being and alleviate sadness and depression.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The importance of a healthy diet can’t be overstated. Eating balanced, nutritious meals gives us the energy to cope with our emotions, ensuring our body has the essential nutrients to function effectively.
Focus on Mental Wellness
Along with physical wellness, focusing on mental well-being is equally important.
Practices such as mindfulness and meditation can bring about a sense of calm and centeredness, helping us stay grounded in the present moment. They foster an awareness of our thoughts and feelings without judgment, allowing us to acknowledge our grief without being overwhelmed.
Pursue Hobbies and Interests
Engaging in hobbies and interests can provide a necessary and welcome distraction from grief. This doesn’t mean we are running away from our feelings, but rather providing our minds with a break and channelling our energy into something positive and fulfilling.
When to Seek Professional Help
While self-care strategies are essential, there might come a time when professional help is necessary. If you notice signs of prolonged grief or clinical depression, such as intense sadness, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, or thoughts of self-harm, it’s important to reach out to mental health professionals.
To sum up, the journey of grief is unique to each individual and requires personal navigation. Taking care of oneself during this process is not a luxury but an essential need. It involves recognising and expressing emotions, reaching out for support, and prioritising physical and mental well-being. Although it may feel difficult in the beginning, it’s important to remember that it’s acceptable to seek assistance and heal at one’s own pace. Additionally, memorial items serve as a wonderful way to keep the memory of your loved one close to your heart at all times, with an ashes keyring being a perfect example of such a meaningful keepsake.