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9 Years After Loss: My Self-Help Laundry List

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9 Years After Loss: My Self-Help Laundry List

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.

Then:

  1. Put a heart next to everything that feels light and useful.
  2. Put an X next to everything that feels heavy, like an obligation.
  3. List positive outcomes of each: strengths or lessons, connections made.

Now, answer some questions:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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 behindit'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.

It's been 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 things I've given up and some things I'm still doing to take care of myself. May my self-help laundry list shed some light on your own.

9 Years After Loss: What Helps Me Now

  1. Gentle yoga. Stretching. Making it all a meditation first, exercise second.
  2. Taking my time. Paying attention to what's right in front of me. Rushing has never been a friend of mine.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Medication. (It took a decade to make this decision.)
  6. Sobriety. (I never thought I'd make this decision.)
  7. Reading fiction. Giving myself a break from the constant stream of self-help.
  8. Nighttime rituals. Saging. Face yoga.
  9. Accepting a full-time job. Making my writing a passion project again, an outlet, and a practice of generosity.
  10. Coaching sessions.
  11. 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."
  12. Walks in the woods. Fresh air. Appreciating Mother Nature.

    . . .

    Tell me:

    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.

    With you,

    Jen

    P.S. Want these kinds of posts in your inbox? Sign up for Tuesday emails and you'll also get my Healing Brave Manifesto, totally free.

    Comments on this post (5)

    • Jul 06, 2020

      Nancy, I understand. I know that feeling of trying so hard just to stay alive and make it through another day. The truth is that you being here… that’s the most important thing in the world. In the universe. So much has come together just to bring us here, to let us come into existence, to live and breathe and love and do what we can. Do what you can. Do love, in your own way. Death seems to never be easy, even though it’s a most natural part of life, maybe an ending but maybe also another chapter, another beginning we can’t know everything about while we’re alive here on earth. What helps me is the small moments, being in nature, touching the trees, watching the river, reminiscing on the miracle it is that we’re here at all, together, for this moment in time. I am glad you’re here. x

      — Jennifer Williamson

    • Jul 06, 2020

      I keep trying… I don’t know how… I don’t know why at times. I have spent so much time and precious energy trying survive death, death, and more death. It hurts so much just staying alive.

      — Nancy Wiltshire

    • Jun 15, 2020

      Anna, thank you for being here. You’ve been through so much, and still have so much life to be here for. May love follow you with each step you take. Wishing you peace and I hope the emails support and serve you. x

      — Jennifer Williamson

    • Jun 15, 2020

      Thank you so much. I resonated with everything you said. I lost my partner of 19 years, 12 years ago and I have struggled to get back to who I once was. I’m now understanding that for me there is no going back, rather I am learning to find me and to love me without the we.

      I look forward to your weekly emails and thank you again for sharing your journey with the world.

      — Anna Marroquin

    • May 18, 2020

      Thank you for this. Very much appreciate the support and guidance.

      — Sweethome Teacup

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