You've been gone from earth for 147 days. You remain in my heart.
If you came for this week's linky, check the next post. But for those of you who are grieving, here are some of the things I've learned in the past 147 days:
· After the death of a loved one, emotions can be all over the place – from sorrow to rage to numbness and everywhere in between. Allow yourself to feel the feelings.
· In the days immediately following your loss, avoid looking too far ahead. There are plenty of tasks to take care of just to get through the first few weeks. Trying to figure out the future can be overwhelming. The fact is, we can only live one day at a time.
· “Widow brain” or “widow fog” is real. After a devastating loss, it is common to find oneself forgetting even the simplest things. Carry a small notebook and pen with you to jot things down or use an app on your phone as a memory aid until the fog clears. It gets better.
· Create a list of things you need help with. People often want to help but not know what you need.
· Things may seem overwhelming. Keeping a to-do list – and crossing off tasks as they’re completed – can help you stay organized. And crossing things off the list can give you a sense of accomplishment.
· Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, try to eat healthy, get some fresh air, and keep your routine medical and dental appointments.
· Avoid making major changes for a year after your loss if at all possible.
· Consider journaling. It can help you clarify your thoughts.
· Don’t narrow your focus solely to what you’ve lost. Remember also what you had together, and what you still have to be grateful for. Start a gratitude list; write down 3 things (big or small) that you have to be thankful for each day.
· Often people who haven’t experienced grief are unable to understand, but find someone you can talk to honestly.
· Many people find that participating in a grief support group or speaking to a counselor or spiritual advisor is extremely helpful.
· Be patient with yourself in early grief, but if the rollercoaster persists or you get “stuck” in an emotion, consider seeking help.
· There is no way around grief; the only way out of grief is to go through it.
· Do things when you’re ready, and trust yourself to know when the time is right.
· We all grieve differently. There is no perfect path to healing from loss.
· At some point, you will smile or laugh or have an enjoyable experience. Don’t apologize for having a good moment, or even a good day. This is something to celebrate.
· Even after you are on the road to recovery, you will most likely experience “ambushes” or “flashbacks”, when something – a song, a memory, an anniversary - triggers a wave of emotion. Ride it out. They get less overwhelming and less frequent with time.
· If you anticipate that a birthday, anniversary, or holiday may be challenging, make a plan. This may be a great time to get together with friends, do something creative, head to your “happy place”, take a class, or volunteer for something that has special meaning to you or your loved one.
· One of the best ways to brighten your day is to do something kind for others. Walk across the street and visit the lonely old lady who lives there. Compliment the harried cashier at the grocery store. Make a batch of cookies and take them to the police department. Offer to cuddle a young mother’s baby for an hour so she can take a nap or go for a walk.
· As time goes by, you may find that some of the things you did together aren’t as much fun without your loved one. You may even find new interests.
· Grieve what you've lost, but allow yourself to move forward when the time is appropriate. We only get one life. It's ok to eventually be happy again.
· It is impossible to honor the life of a loved one by refusing to live.