The twelfth coping strategy is “Something Nice for Someone Else”
For many people in grief, doing acts of kindness, volunteering, doing something to bring comfort, a smile, or some love to another person is a way that we can find a bit of peace within our own pain.
Research shows that volunteerism and altruistic acts to benefit others have long term physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. Doing things for others can result in increased feelings of well-being. It brings a sense of purpose and helps us create meaning when life makes no sense. Studies also show … Read more...
Anxiety, depression and grief can make finding sleep a challenge. Most of the coping strategies that we have posted thus far will help with sleep but if you are in the early days of grief, it’s crucial because a day in early grief with no sleep is intolerable.
So I’ll share my strategy after Charles’ suicide. I did call my doctor and ask for a prescription for promethazine which is the generic name of Phenergan. It’s a drug used for nausea, after surgery usually, that makes me very tired. It makes most people tired, is … Read more...
Rituals large and small can help us manage the chaos of grief. Rituals of remembrance help to bring order, aid in transition and help us to understand complex feelings.
Through observing our own senses, acknowledging how we are feeling, and purposefully using the tools of ritual to safely come into the present moment with our grief, with our love, and with whatever else the moment holds, we can find ways of moving through each moment and into the next. In grief, this can be an essential practice.
It doesn’t matter whether you think you are creative or not. You are.
When you’re living with heart-crushing grief, just figuring out how to get out of bed is a creative endeavor. I talk to people a lot about being creative in grief and how helpful it can be. When I teach workshops or do retreats, we do all sorts of creative things in our grief. And people always say, “I’m just not creative,” or “I’m not an artist,” or “I can only draw stick figures.” Stick figures can do … Read more...
This one is easy but difficult for some to do. Talking about your loved one helps heal.
The eighth coping strategy is “talk.”
Many of you have realized that other people will completely ignore you and wish you’d just stop talking about your dead or suffering child. But this is my argument to those people, “I will stop talking about my dead child when you stop talking about your living ones.”
Just as grief is not one way, or one thing, neither is yoga. There are multiple yogic paths but all paths of yoga lead to the same place. The word itself means “union” and the goal of yoga is to help us see all the various pieces and parts of ourselves as unified, recognizing that we were never really separate in the first place. It helps us to remember (and to re-member) those parts of us that we forgot were One. This includes our beloved dead.
The sixth coping strategy is “make your alter ego your ally.”
Ever since I was fifteen years old, I’ve used a strategy to help me get out of the cycle of beating myself up. I didn’t realize I had been using this method for decades until after Charles died when I started writing “alter ego” posts here. It’s what I do to get myself out of the habit of self criticism.
When I was a young teen, I would join in those teen conversations about hating this body part or that. “My thighs were too fat.” “I am too tall.” I … Read more...
You’re probably also familiar with the term “mindfulness.” Mindfulness the practice of being as present as possible in this moment, with as much compassion and as little judgment as possible.
Meditation is a mindfulness practice. Learning to do this can be a huge gift to yourself in grief. It’s not easy, but it has big payoffs. and There’s a guided meditation for you to try at the end of this post.
Most people who believe they can’t meditate usually say something like, “I just can’t quiet my mind!” If we approach meditation … Read more...
The fourth coping strategy is “Find a support system”
Human beings aren’t meant to do everything in isolation. Grief, watching a child self destruct from mental illness/addiction makes us feel helpless. Why go it alone where there are so many others suffering? There is no badge of honor by toughing it out by yourself. Support is a step you take to help you heal. And your presence helps others, too.
What does that mean?
Support systems come in a lot of packages, an apropos description given the time of year. Your friends and family have empathy for you but you … Read more...
For those of us in grief, the holidays are most definitely not the most wonderful time of the year. No matter how long it has been since your beloved died.
It has been nearly 13 years since my son, Theo, died of a brain tumor when he was just a baby and the holidays continue to be a struggle for me in many ways. If you are in early grief—and by early, I mean the first year, second year, third year, sometimes further in—the holidays can be excruciating.
After Charles died, others didn’t seem to want to talk about him. Or let me talk about him. I kept wondering, “Why can’t I talk about my son?”
So two months after he died, I started writing an article for the newspaper about his death. We had just moved out of the house where he had grown up because it had sold four days before he stunned us by killing himself.
He died June 2015. I started writing August 2015. The first version was sloppy and pointless but I kept writing it, revising it, … Read more...