Let’s spend our time together this month looking at ways to help yourself in this time of fear, grief and loss. We can call it self-care or showing yourself compassion. I like the phrase self-kindness. It’s something we all need to give ourselves during a difficult, exhausting walk in the shadow of hurt and sorrows. Look with me at part of a blog from What’s Your Grief? entitled, “7 Ways to Treat Yourself with Kindness While Grieving.” It may not be easy to do and it will mean different things to different people. It is not something you “should” do for there are no “shoulds” in grief. Self-kindness is healthy and courageous. In fact, let me share what a friend wrote about this picture: “I love the rough-edged heart. I believe God can use heartaches that have caused the rough edge” to help people “be more tender with their own selves and with others.” Is it time to be tender with yourself? Here we go with self-kindness!
- Don’t compare: “Throw things like grief stages, tasks, and timelines out the window” because your grief is your own. Accept your grief and “learn from the grief experiences of others but don’t compare.” It’s not kind to yourself to compare yourself to who you were before your loss. Be kind to who you are now and see where you are now. Give yourself permission to smile, cry, connect with others, and rest.
- Accept that a wide range of experiences is normal in grief: Grief is not supposed to be a certain way and that’s it, done. In this society, though, people do tend to look at grief as a process with steps to follow. Please know there is “a long list of emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral responses that are considered ‘normal’ in grief.” Knowing this is a kinder, more real, freeing way of grieving.
- Give distressing emotions and experiences the time and attention they need: It is showing kindness to yourself to listen to yourself. “It helps to acknowledge your pain and find ways to take care of yourself.” It is courageous to ask for help. It is courageous to accept help. Creating space for your personal kind-time is vital. And here is the beauty of this self-kindness: someday, when a friend also needs help, you will be able to give back to them because you were open in your time of need.
- Love the person who died unapologetically: “What we know about grief is that ongoing love and attachment is totally normal!” Talking about your loved one is ok, honoring your loved one in personal or familial ways is ok, sharing your memories is ok. Self-kindness is in this, too.