20 Ways To Get Through Those Dark Days of Grief
By Maureen Hunter
After the loss of a loved one we are thrown into the chaos of grief, flailing around aimlessly in the swell of hurt and emotions that swamp us. Every day seems like a bad day.
Even many years later we can have days where the effort of coping, the effort of everyday demands and the effort of living becomes too great to bear for a time. We give in and collapse, letting ourselves become engulfed and dragged down by our emotional burdens.
When we’re in that place it’s hard to find a way out, to see daylight and be able to breathe in fresh air again. Here are some tips to help you navigate the black hole – 20 ways you can get through your bad days.
Feel it for a while
Wallow – yes wallow. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves permission to be in the mire of what we feel and what we are experiencing. We need to be engulfed in our great sorrow and pain that hurts like nothing on earth. We need to feel the depths of our anguish for ourselves, our deep ache for all that we are going through so that we can open our eyes to another day.
Set a timer – yes you can wallow but not forever. It’s a self-absorbed dark place that we don’t want to be in forever. Give yourself a time limit – minutes or hours, perhaps the whole day. Set boundaries that support you.
Move – any sort of movement is good. If it comes after a good wallow, it might be as simple as getting out of bed. It could be walking around the block or having a good stretch. Activity is a whole body plus. Start where you are and go from there.
Smartphone – find an app that inspires you, something to lift your spirits when you’re feeling down. It could be faith based, inspirational quotes or the sounds of nature.
iPad/Tablets – there is an amazing array of stuff you can get nowadays to distract and divert you, to lift you up a little from the gloom that can descend. I’ve recently added the TED app to my iPad. TED is a non-profit dedicated to ideas worth spreading. In their iPad app there are hundreds of talks from their conferences you can watch on a bad day or when sleep eludes you.
Playlists – find your favourite music and put it into playlists depending on your mood. Have one for gloomy days, some music that pulls you up a notch. Have one for walking. Have one for sleeping. You can even get special ear bud sleeping bands for comfort plus.
Soft tissues – our poor noses come in for a battering when we are grieving. We have never cried so much. So buy some extra gentle tissues to have on hand. A little softness goes a long way when we’re feeling miserable.
Cuddle up – buy a beautiful soft and snugly throw to dive into. There is something about being warm and covered that makes us feel protected and cared for. It’s a hug with us, for ourselves.
Food – it’s not a good thing to dive into the cupboard when we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed but we all do it and it can be an emotional short term boost. Keep it for those times when you need it most. We all have our favourites, for me its chocolate based – hot drinks, chocolates or pudding.
Warmth – have you noticed how you feel better when the sun is shining and you feel warm and cosy? Where you can, get out in the sunshine or warm yourself by the fire front and let the heat thaw the ache in your heart a little.
Bathe – immersing ourselves in the warmth of a scented bath or feeling the hot water of a shower pour over us can be very soothing. Team it up with a beautiful soap or oil to make you feel nurtured and special.
Laugh – something that might seem impossible when we are in the depths of despair. Laughing is healthy and nothing to feel bad about. We all need some relief, a breather and laughter can do so much to release the tension we hold in tight. Watch this yoga laughter video or keep a couple of DVDs or tapes you know you will laugh at close at hand. It can do so much to break open the shell of despair sitting heavy in your heart.
Feed your mind – have a couple of books, DVD’s or tapes that inspire you in some way. You might have some you turn to again and again. If not, start to collect a couple of things you can use during these difficult days. To comfort you, inspire you and give you hope.
One good thing – it can be the hardest thing in the world to feel grateful for anything when we have lost someone we love so very much. Yet I believe if we try and if we practice we can find our one good thing that becomes another and another. It taps us into the polar opposite of our loss and directs us towards hope and healing.
Your box of goodies – when you are having a bad day, give yourself a fighting chance and know what makes you feel better. It could be a picture or a piece of jewellery. It could be a gift voucher you bought a while ago for a day like today. It could be a beautiful fragrance or a bunch of your favourite flowers. Keep them in your real or imagined box and tap into them when you need to.
Phone a friend – gauge how you feel. Sometimes we want to talk, sometimes we don’t. We may not have close friends or family we can call but we may be able to connect in other ways. Grief is a very lonely and isolating experience. We all have times where we need support and need to know we’re not the only one feeling this way.
Get support – most grief support groups have contact lists where you can reach out for support. If you are feeling suicidal in any way please get immediate help from your Doctor, Hospital or Emergency help line in your area. The internet never sleeps and can be a great support and reassurance to those from any part of the world who need to connect with someone else who is grieving.
Seek help – I often say whilst there are many who can walk beside us we are the only ones who can do the work, the hard yards of mourning and healing. We are the only ones who can do what it takes to live again. We are the only ones who can seek help to support ourselves as we step through our grief. We may have gone beyond being able to help ourselves by ourselves or what we have tried just isn’t working. It’s time to try something different. Never be afraid to seek help, it could be a turning point for you.
Go somewhere different
Treat yourself – our homes can become our safety net, our sanctuary especially when we’re feeling so very sorrowful. Getting out the house and being in a different place moves your body but it can also shift your mood. Make it pleasurable, take yourself somewhere nice. Break the mould.
Sit with the birds – nature is incredibly restorative and healing. Sit outside for 10 mins with a cuppa or go for a walk in a nearby park. Listen to the sounds of nature; let it be a salve to your soul. Find a beautiful picture of our wonderful world to adorn your desktop or sit on your table. Buy a water fountain and be surrounded by the sounds of nature in your everyday.
Go visiting – where have you always wanted to go? See it in your mind, imagine it. Bring it to life with pictures. Read about it, think about it, and plan it. Having something to look forward to can help us deal with the difficulties we are going through right now. It might not be a long held dream, it could be a trip for a night or two away, a holiday or something you always wanted to do.
Try some of these on for size; see if they are a good fit for you. If not, come up with your own ways. You are helping yourself as only you can by finding what works for you and then doing it.
Maureen Hunter is an inspirational writer and grief steps mentor giving comfort and hope to many. She is passionate about helping people to step through grief and build a new and different life after loss, one in which their loved one is always a part of.