After the death of a loved one, you know grief doesn't subside with time. Your level of anxiety and pain may actually increase as time passes because you are coming to terms with all that is broken.Unfortunately, a reboot isn't available. The life you once had no longer exists.
In understanding grief, it is important to understand that healing doesn't occur in one fell swoop. For some, there is much that waits to be healed. In addition, it is not unusual to feel anxiety, fear, doubt, anger and frustration. When working with these feelings associated with loss, practicing self- compassion can assuage some of the emotional pain. For the purpose of this piece, I am defining self- compassion as this: the act of practicing loving kindness both in words and actions with the intent to heal one's pain.
Five Ways To Practice Self- Compassion After Loss:
1. Journal Writing: This technique allows you to become transparent with yourself and reveal your deepest fears. It is difficult to heal that which you hide from yourself. Keeping a journal allows you to write the unspeakable. When you look over your journal entries, observe the words you use to describe yourself. Take notice if you are overly critical with yourself.
2. Soften The Critical Inner- Voice: Speaking to yourself with a harsh and cruel tone shapes the way you think and feel. Your grief can be overwhelming at times, so be gentle with your words. You don't heal any faster with negative thinking.
3. Forgive Yourself: Mistakes both big and small happen. Beating yourself up isn't going to change the past or help you cope better. And if you can't forgive yourself for everything, then try with a small piece and forgive yourself for this.
4. Make Modifications: After a loss, you are not 100 percent. Instead of trying to do everything as you did before, go ahead and make small modifications to your daily tasks and schedule. For example, you may still go to a work event, but instead of being the last one to leave you decide to leave early. It is okay to make other adjustments as well. You may not have the energy to clean your entire home at once, so you decide to break it down into small tasks and do it over a period of time.
5. Reach out: Grief is not a D.I.Y (do-it-yourself) situation. This means that you may need to swallow your pride and ask for help with plumbing, childcare. While you might think others should be at your doorstep volunteering to pitch in, this may not happen. Asking for assistance can save you a great deal of extra stress and frustration. You may also need to seek professional mental health treatment to help you cope with your bereavement.
Remember that practicing self- compassion isn't natural post- loss. Unfortunately, there is not a set time frame for recovery. Your life sustained a severe complex fracture. Give yourself permission to be sympathetic to your own pain. Give yourself grace.
Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level social worker, speaker, and author of A Widow’s Guide to Healing with cover blurbs from Maria Shriver and Deepak Chopra, M.D. Kristin was a recent panelist at the 2017 Harvard Medical School’s writing conference. She recently attended the UN Women’s conference, and can be reached via her website. She speaks about resiliency, writing, grief, and wellness.