Grief and Self-Care: A path to recovery

Grief is a natural response to loss, whether it be the death of a loved one, or the loss of relationship, job, home, or even health. What often gets overlooked in the process of recovery is self-care.

Self-care is an important part of the grief recovery process.

It may be difficult to think in terms of doing things that are in your best interest, but healing of any kind only happens when the environment around the wound is conducive to healing.  Caring for yourself in meaningful ways is offering you an opportunity to heal and grow.  Below is a self-assessment to help you determine how well you are doing at self-care or whether there is room for improvement.  Do those things most important to keep you moving towards a full and satisfying recovery.

Regardless of how you score, there are no right or wrong ways to grieve.  The path through grief is different for each person, so here are three things to keep in mind on your journey towards better self-care through the process:

Avoid “shoulds” during this period. Be careful not to let others, or even yourself, use the words “you should” be doing this or that.  Draw people around you to offer the support you need while allowing you to do it in a manner that is best for you.

Notice the emotional high and lows. Grieving may involve extreme emotions of anger, guilt, despair, or fear.  At times it may feel like you are on a whitewater raft careening down a river of emotion and then suddenly find yourself marooned barely able to function or move.  All of those emotional highs and lows can be normal and even sometimes helpful as you move through the process.  Over time, if the extreme emotions do not begin to fade or even begin to increase, it may be time to look for additional support from a professional counselor and/or your doctor.

Know when to seek support. We were created with the capacity to feel loss deeply because we are human. It’s not unusual to feel sadness, anger, remorse, or longing all at the same time, but sometimes we need extra support if we get stuck in grief and struggle to rebalance our lives.  The support you need may be spending more time with loved ones, but you may also need the support of an outsider who can give an objective perspective to consider.

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