This past week marked 9 years since my brother's suicide. Life since then has been... everything. Heavy and light. Lackluster and full of wisdom. Somehow, still beautiful.
I wanted to share some of the things I've given up and some of the things I'm still doing to take care of myself. I'll call it my self-help laundry list, for the purpose of this post.
Before I share, I want you to know that I see you.
Life after loss is a whole lot of figuring things out. You're healing, you're rediscovering yourself, you're learning how to move forward even when you can't move on.
The way you've taken care of yourself in the past may not be what you need now.
How you lived your life then may not be what you want for yourself going forward.
I suggest making a list of all the things you're currently doing to take care of yourself, to better your life, to progress with your healing. Therapy, meditation, medication, friendship, walks in the woods.
List all the ways you're trying to heal, grow, and improve your quality of life.
- Put a heart next to everything that feels light and useful.
- Put an X next to everything that feels heavy, like an obligation.
- List positive outcomes of each: strengths or lessons, connections made.
Now, answer some questions:
- Why are you doing it? To get approval or because you feel totally compelled or intrigued? Because you read it in a book, or someone recommended it, or you felt pressured?
- What are the results of doing this? Who or what have you forgiven? Are you more lit up, closer to spirit, more daring or flexible, sleeping better, less anxious, more generous?
- What are you going to continue showing up for? What will you deepen? What will you say goodbye to?
It's okay to say, "This has served me, but I'm retiring now."
Assessing what you're leaving behind—it's staying in check with your own power. It's not a betrayal of your teachers but an act of self-agency.
It's enlightening when you realize that more is not always more. That doing everything doesn't mean you're doing what's necessary.
Figuring out what you need and then making space in your life for that? THAT is healing. THAT is taking care of yourself.
Here's where I am in my process. I hope it inspires you to think about where you are in yours.
9 Years After Loss: What Helps Me Now
- Gentle yoga. Stretching. Making it all a meditation first, exercise second.
- Taking my time. Paying attention to what's right in front of me. Rushing has never been a friend of mine.
- Expressing what I need. Speaking up when it's not working for me. Being honest about what I like and don't like. Facing the hard conversations.
- Saying "I am sorry" for behavior I'm not proud of, then forgiving myself. Not saying "I am sorry" when I have no real reason to be sorry.
- Medication. (It took a decade to make this decision.)
- Sobriety. (I never thought I'd make this decision.)
- Reading fiction. Giving myself a break from the constant stream of self-help.
- Nighttime rituals. Saging. Face yoga.
- Accepting a full-time job. Making my writing a passion project again, an outlet, and a practice of generosity.
- Coaching sessions.
- Allowing myself alone time without guilt or excuses. Setting boundaries that serve me, so that I can be better for others. Owning every "yes" and "no."
- Walks in the woods. Fresh air. Appreciating Mother Nature.
. . .
In what big or small ways do you take care of yourself now, after everything you've been through?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I'd love to know what helps you.
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