Getting through each painful day
Grief specialist Kristie West gives advice on how to deal with the first days of loosing someone you love, which can be an incredibly painful, confusing and overwhelming time.
Here are my five best tips to help you through each day.
1. Look after yourself
Maybe you're ok or maybe you're a wreck....or anywhere in between. I know there may be lots of things to do and people to help, but you are very important. And you aren't much help to anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself first.
The absolute basics are:
- eat enough and well enough;
- drink enough water;
- watch your alcohol intake...alcohol is a depressant and might feel helpful at the time but it isn't;
- get a little fresh air/exercise daily;
- shower/bath daily;
- have contact with friends/family...don't turn your back on the world;
- know your pick-me-ups for comfort...a song you like, a friend who makes you laugh, mediation, time with a pet,etc;
- cry when you feel like crying...don’t hold it in – not releasing emotion hurts you;
- Get enough sleep, or at least rest .
2. Be honest with yourself
Let yourself feel whatever you feel.
Grief is a specific set of emotions, thoughts, and questions – some that rarely get mentioned or are considered 'inappropriate'. What these are differs greatly from one person to the next.
Don’t bother with expectations of what you ‘should’ feel. Don’t tell yourself you should be ok…or you should be really upset. Whatever you are feeling...or not feeling... just allow it.
3. Be honest with others about what you need
Don’t just expect everyone to know how you feel and what you need from them.
This goes for other people dealing with the same loss, as well as those who aren't.
The people around you aren’t mind-readers. They will be trying to work out what you might need right now, so tell them.
If you don’t want to talk about it, if you want someone to have a consoling coffee with, or if you need to be left alone...say so.
4. Don’t expect everyone to be there for you
People will react to you in different ways – anything from smothering you to staying as far from you as possible. They have their own experiences, beliefs and fears around death, some that they won't even be aware of. They won't all be able to handle your loss, no matter how much they want to help.
Just figure out who is good for what. The friend who totally distances themselves from you is not the person to call when you really want to talk about your loss. Nor is the friend who wants to talk to you about it constantly the person to have that off-topic gossipy coffee with.
Don't write anyone off. They do love you - but they have their own demons to battle over this too.
5. Know you won’t feel this way forever
You will expect, and be told, many things about how this loss will affect you - now and in the future. Not all of them will be helpful.
Right now, when you’ve just lost someone close to you, it might not feel like this pain could ever go...but put this thought in the back of your mind now:
You will feel better. You will still feel close to them and remember them. And, when you are ready, you can heal from this.
Read Kristie's blog for updated advice on grief and bereavement.