Trying to take good care of yourself while you're grieving is no small act of kindness. It is, rather, a very large gesture of respect not just for yourself as you process your grief, but for the people you've lost and for the people who are still here.
Over the years I've learned that how well I take care of myself is a reflection of my values -- values like compassion and dependability. Values that became much more important in my life after my brother's death, and my father's, too.
It could be acute grief or chronic illness you're struggling with. Maybe someone you love is trying to navigate the most difficult time of their lives.
Whatever the source of anguish, self-care is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit and one's capacity for recovery.
It's a display of commitment to your personal evolution when you'd rather do nothing at all.
You won't feel like taking the extra five minutes to be still and breathe, but you do it anyway.
You won't feel like getting on the bike or rolling out the yoga mat, but you do it anyway.
Just tying your shoes is asking a lot when you're exhausted, but you show up and step outside even just for a minute to breathe the fresh air and look up at the sky.
You said yes to an invitation when you really meant to say maybe, and that maybe turned out to be a no -- so you listen to yourself and you choose "no," with love.
You change your mind and you're okay with that.
You need a little more support and space right now, and you're okay with that, too.
Showing up for yourself often means not showing up for everything and everyone else. It means trusting yourself enough to stand by the decisions that are best for you.
The main gift of self-care for me in my grief has been just that: a burgeoning trust in who I am.
The Gift of Self-Care When You're Grieving
The burgeoning trust in who you are and in what you can handle.
The sense of self-respect that arises each time you choose patience over perfection, introspection over distraction, compassion over scrutiny.
The truth of your divinity as you look in the mirror and say “I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
The knowledge that you don’t need to always work to prove how worthy you are, that you don’t always need to be so angry and hard and righteous. The serene feeling when you take that knowledge and accept it as your own.
Self-care in a dark time is a fierce tenderness, an offering to the flame of life which flickers at the very bottom of your heart of darkness.
It is witnessing the deep, solemn silence of the rising of the sun.
It is waking up with a word of comfort for your grieving heart.
It is a companionship of a different kind.
It is the difference between stillness and numbness, between awareness and manipulation.
Self-care when you’re grieving bestows lots of clarity. You learn to listen to all the ways your mind, heart, and body need you. In doing that, you let new seeds of wisdom take root, wisdom that at times involves letting heavy things go until you can stand on your own.
You rest to become stronger.
You rest to become wiser.
You rest because you need to rest.
Guidance for the next right step, the person who can support you, the book you needed to read, will likely come out of that place of restfulness.
It’s not always a cup of rose tea and a book, but sometimes that’s what self-care looks like. Other times it’s a commitment to therapy or a new tradition you create with your family.
It is listening to the whispers of your body before they become wild with need.
It is paying attention to the tugs on your heart and the visions of your dreams.
It is looking around and affirming that you belong everywhere and no place at all, because above all else you belong to yourself.
It is reading your thoughts with curiosity without adopting every thought that passes through.
It is discernment and attention to the details of your life. It is placing an emphasis on the energy you give and receive. It is a rediscovered connection to the source, to creation, to nature.
It is that tiny flickering flame at the bottom of your heart of darkness that stays, even when you can’t bear to see it.
Eventually, it is the resolve to open your heart and open your eyes all at once so that you can see the light again.
Self-care, especially during the most difficult times in your life, could be called “basking in the consciousness of how vast your heart is.”
When you show up and find yourself one day in that vastness, you, too, will know the greatest gifts that self-kindness can give.
. . .
Which part of this did you need to hear today?
How do you take good care of yourself during the busy holiday season especially?
Tell me in the comments. What you share means more than you could know.
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