After suffering the loss of a loved one, a pet, a job, or a friendship, it’s important to remember to care for yourself while you’re grieving. For many, this can be difficult. Sometimes when we’re overcome with grief, it can be difficult even to get out of bed, let alone take active steps towards self-care. It’s all part of the path to healing, though, and little by little, as you slowly move forward, it can get easier.
Here’s how to care for yourself while grieving.
Take the Time to Recognize Your Grief
First and foremost, you must recognize your grief and take the time to feel it. You have suffered a loss, and your emotions are valid, expected, and understandable. Do not let others try to tell you otherwise.
You may need time to yourself to process your feelings, or you may feel better being around a group of people close to you while you grieve. Either way, you must take the time to do so. Burying the emotions you’re feeling isn’t a sustainable approach. It’s okay to feel what you feel. Know that over time. It will get better.
No Act of Self Care is Too Small
When overcome with grief, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of isolating yourself. Sleeping excessively, staying in your pajamas, or neglecting small things like showering, doing your hair or makeup, or cleaning the dishes. None of this is unnatural, but it is important to overcome it.
While you’re grieving, every act of self-care is an achievement. Every time you get up, get dressed, get to work, and make it through the day while struggling with grief is a great accomplishment. Don’t put stress on yourself by thinking, “I should be better by now,” or “I should be doing more.”
Instead, recognize that today, you did your best. You made it to work or the grocery store. Today you were brave.
Set Aside Time for Things That Make You Happy
It seems impossible to imagine happiness right now. It may even seem like it would be unfair or wrong to be happy right now. It isn’t. Set aside time for an activity you enjoy and make sure that you participate in it.
Go to that concert you bought tickets six months ago. Show up to your friend’s performance at an open-mic night. Keep those plans for girl’s night.
Your grief will come in waves. There will be ups and downs. Taking your mind off of it for even just an hour can significantly benefit your mental health. Slowly but surely, you’ll feel more comfortable reintegrating back into your daily life, but right now, baby steps are headed in the right direction.
Seek Professional Help if You Need It
If you find yourself slipping into depression, unable to meet your daily obligations, or find that your symptoms worsen over time instead of improving, it may be time to seek professional help. Self-care becomes increasingly difficult when you’re struggling with depression.
There are dedicated grief counselors who specialize in helping those who are struggling to get through difficult times. When you need help, it’s okay to come forward and ask for it.