The immediate moments and days after the loss of a loved one can be a tumultuous time and you may endure a wide range of feelings including shock, anger, sadness and frustration. Each person’s journey in the days after a loss is unique and is a deeply personal experience.
It is important to take care of yourself and ensure your needs are met during this difficult time, so try your best to give yourself permission to do so. Here are some things to consider doing to take care of yourself in the midst of this painful time.
Rest and recharge
The days after a loss are often full of many funeral planning to-dos while you’re also dealing with the range of difficult emotions as you mourn and grieve. It may be difficult to get a full night’s sleep, and it can be easy to ignore your own nutrition as you handle arrangements and work through immediate details. When you can, try doing some of these things:
- Take a nap
- Stop to rest your feet
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to keep a healthy diet
Move your body
Exercise has a proven biological effect on your body and mood. It immediately increases blood flow and over time can promote feelings of calm. Exercising can be a healthy way to take time for yourself and can serve as a distraction in the midst of coping with grief. Consider these different ways to keep moving and get some fresh air to help your body and mind in this difficult time:
- Go for a walk
- Attend an exercise class such as yoga or pilates
- Take a bike ride
- Go swimming
Practice relaxation breathing
Intentional breathing is a powerful way to focus your mind on the present and support your mental well-being. Take breaks throughout the day to practice simple breathing exercises like this:
Extended Breath: Close your eyes. Breath normally for a few minutes. Then breathe in for 5 counts, breathe out for 5 counts. Repeat this three to five times. Then spend a few more minutes just focusing on breathing naturally.
You don’t have to be an artist to express your emotions and feelings through creativity. Tapping into your creative side can help you focus, increase your resilience, and support an overall sense of well-being. Art can also help you make sense of complicated emotions and serve as a way to express those emotions. Consider these ideas:
- Write in a journal
- Make a collage to express how you are feeling
- Write a poem
- Knit or craft with your hands
- Create a song collection
Create a sacred space
Establishing a dedicated space looks different for each person. Find a place, activity, or experience that helps you take time for yourself. Here are some ideas:
- A daily morning walk to connect with nature
- Evening meditation
- Gathering around the table with family
- Spending time with pets
It can be easy to ignore your own health and wellbeing, especially in the immediate aftermath of losing someone you care about. Self care is important to healthy coping in the aftermath of a loss, so try your best to find some time in the midst of these difficult days to take care of yourself.