Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taking Care of Yourself Is Important....

Hello there,

The grieving process can take so much out of an individual. We are so drained and consumed by the loss. It is an injury not just to one's heart and emotions, but it hurts our bodies and well-being on other physical/emotional planes. When my mom died, I stayed in bed the first day. I couldn't take phone calls.  It was so difficult to talk to people. When my dad died this last May (3 months ago) as of this writing, I was drained from the period of staying with him in the hospital for several days and having made the decision with my brothers of removing life support and then facing his death. We went to his place and "crashed out asleep". There was nothing left in me. My brothers did the same thing.

Going on afterward isn't easy either.  I had sleepless nights and did countless hours of distraction of silly things. Mind-numbing things like old TV shows or movies on the computer or a DVD. It took no energy. That was what I did. I certainly wasn't eating right. When my mom died I overate. When my dad died, I just didn't eat right-differently each day. In normal everyday life, I made somewhat of a concious effort to eat healthy, take vitamins, sleep so many hours, be physically active to some degree. It's been out the window.

It has made me feel worse.  After my dad's second wife died, he lost a lot of weight. He looked unhealthy. When a good friend of ours was killed in a violent way, his mother (usually very trim) filled out a bit. She said normally she tried to watch things, but wasn't after that. After a couple of years she got back on track, but she allowed herself some flexibility. She was too drained.

A woman I used to work with lost her father and had taken up smoking after having been smoke-free for ten years. She hated herself for it, but said it was the only comforting thing she had.

It hits people in different ways. It is very important to take care of yourself. You can look at it in different ways.  If you broke your leg or suffered a physical injury or were recovering from pneumonia, for example, you would need to rest, perhaps get physical therapy (depending on the issue) or go through a course of medical care. The key word there is "care". You need to care for yourself, as well as don't refuse help from others. If someone offers you a meal, or help with something such as fielding phone calls, taking you to an appointment, grocery shopping, doing your laundry, doing some house work, watching your kids (taking them out to a movie or something), it might not be a bad idea to take them up on it.  If you have the chore of making arrangements for the funeral or other tasks, perhaps it would be a great help to enlist the aid of  a friend or even clergy person (someone who can help that you trust) to go with you or to assist you. 

Sometimes people don't know what to do but want to help.  Sometimes I didn't know what I wanted or needed, but other times I did.  Sometimes asking someone to do your dishes or help pick out an outfit or whatever they may be good at can be a big relief.

On the physical side, don't skip meals, try to eat healthy well-rounded one meals 3 times a day. Try to go to bed and wake up at regular hours. Even if you can't do it all the time, making the effort is important. If you physically don't take care of yourself, you will feel worse.  Taking care of yourself physically can help make a big difference!  Without nuture, your injury will make your body and well-being landslide down and further much more quickly.  Also, another way to look at this is that you might want to question if your loved one would want to see you like this.  They probably wouldn't want to see you neglect yourself.

Simple things you can do to start are to take your vitamins, eat healthier regularly, try to force yourself to have a regular bedtime sleep/wake time schedule. I couldn't get the sleep/wake thing down at first, but now I'm getting better with it. Don't beat yourself up if it's not working at first. Eventually it will. Just keep trying.

This is especially a time to take care of yourself. You are important. 

Be in peace,

Mary Ellen

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