12 Weeks of Peace
Week 7: How Grief Affects You
By this point, you are at least seven weeks removed from your loss. This is a good time for self-reflection. While there are no wrong answers, it is of great value for you to understand how far you’ve come. Maybe at the beginning you couldn’t look at a picture of them without crying, and now you can see it and smile at the memory. Perhaps you couldn’t talk about them before, but now you like to talk about them or listen to others tell stories. No matter how your grief has affected you, it’s likely that you’ve changed quite a bit, even if you don’t realize it. Week 7 is going to explore all the ways that grief changes you as a person, and you can decide how you feel about those changes. Remember, this is a personal journey.
Day 43: Take Care of Yourself
It’s okay to be selfish when you’re grieving. You’re going through extreme stress and pain, and it’s natural that your instinct may be to take care of those around you. Many people feel guilt when they struggle with their own pain, and can’t be a pillar of strength for others. While it’s good to create a circle of support among friends and family, there are going to be days when you need to focus on taking care of yourself.
Day 44: Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First
Why do flight attendants tell you to “please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”? It seems so unnatural. If you’re with a child, parent, or loved one, of course you want to make sure everyone else is okay. But if you’ve lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen, you certainly won’t be able to help anyone get their mask on.
This same idea applies to mourning. If you are depressed, angry, negative, or upset, you can’t properly try to help others overcome those feelings when you’re trapped in them yourself. Your positive impact on others can only happen when you’re allowing yourself to be positively impacted, in big ways or small.
This does not mean you have to be fully recovered in order to support others. It just means that all of your energy can’t go into helping others heal. You also have to let yourself heal.
When it comes to grieving, being selfish can be the most selfless thing to do.
Grief can make us seem very selfish
focused only on the people we lost
Ignoring our loved ones around us
not aware of the hurt and loss.
We miss events, parties, and get-togethers
we stare blank at people when they speak
life feels totally dark and bleak
It isn’t that we don’t care
It isn’t that we don’t want to take part
We just need time to adjust and learn
How to live with a broken heart.
Day 45: Today is About You
Today is about YOU. In the face of overwhelming sadness, it is so easy to forget about your own mental health. Do something today that will make you smile – it doesn’t matter how big or small. Read a book, go to your favorite park or store, watch your favorite funny movie, go to your favorite restaurant, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and catch up. It doesn’t matter what it is, but find a way to bring yourself a moment of happiness. Because that’s what life is: a series of small happy moments all strung together. If you can manage to find even one of those moments today, you are on the right path.
Day 46: Grief Triggers
They are often the worst part of grieving. Particularly when you feel you are having a good day. You woke up, you went through your routine, and you even managed to laugh at a joke. Suddenly you catch a whiff of their perfume, hear a song from a memory you shared, see someone who wears their hair the way they used to … and it all comes rushing in. Your senses, almost without your consent, are searching for anything they can find that will remind you of your loved one.
But you can turn it all around. Those reminders of your grief can be reminders of your love. That old song doesn’t have to mean despair; it can bring a smile to your face as you remember a beautiful memory. The scent of that perfume can be a reminder of how familiar and close you feel to your loved one. Focus on the way someone lived, not on the sadness of their death. When you feel ready, try to find some healing triggers in your life.
Day 47: Healing Is A Choice
There is no guarantee that you will to heal. No book, pamphlet, or poem can ensure it. Only you can.
Healing is a choice, and not healing is a choice.
There are many resources available, and you can choose to take advantage of them when you’re ready. You can choose to remain open to the ones around you. It will not be easy, but that just tells you how significant your loved one is – not was – to you. Be the fighter they would want you to be, and choose to face your pain. Every day it will get a little easier, until suddenly it’s bearable. And you can enjoy your life again.
Day 48: Footprints on the Heart
Some people come into our lives
and quickly go.
Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to new understanding
With the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make
the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for awhile,
leave footprints on our hearts
And we are never, ever the same.
In what ways did your loved one change you? How do you think you changed them?
Day 49: Grief is Like the Ocean
While it’s true that grief may not truly ever go away, it also won’t hurt forever. Impossible as it seems, with time you will learn how to continue living life. You’ll smile and laugh again. You’ll make new memories and continue living. That doesn’t mean you’ll ever forget your loved one, but grief will not permanently dominate your life. Which is exactly how your loved one would want it.
Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.
It will take time and effort, but you will learn how to swim. And soon the water won’t seem so overwhelming.