Self Care in the 1st year of Grief ℠
"30 Days of Comfort: A Beginner's Guide to Nurturing Self Care"
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Guest Blog Post: "What is Self Care in the 1st Year of Grief All About?"
by Aimee Joy Taylor, writing for The Respite: A Center for Grief and Hope
"In our free monthly support group, “Self Care in the 1st Year of Grief” we meet to share our stories in a comfortable setting. With cookies, tea and two hours of uninterrupted space to be ourselves, we share the struggles unique to the first year of grieving – with a special focus on the physical grief
We can find comfort in knowing that the achy muscles, clenched jaws, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and fatigue are not burdens to be carried alone. There is comfort to be found in hearing the stories and experiences of others who walk the same path and carry the same struggles in their bodies." (Read more...)
"Why I Advocate for "Self Care in the 1st Year of Grief"
by Aimee Joy Taylor
I believe that grieving bodies need more than just a weekly or monthly Grief Massage. In my experience, physical comfort is of extreme and incredible importance on a daily basis during the first year of grief.
During the first year of grief, we will face a horrible succession of "firsts" - first birthday after the loss, the first lonely birthday of the one we lost, first anniverary of the loss, first lonely Easter, first lonely Thanksgiving, first lonely Christmas, first lonely New Years, first lonely Valentines Day...the list can go on and on. Often, especially in the first year, these trigger days will feel lonely and uncomfortable no matter how surrounded we are with other loved ones.
I have found that the body unconsciously tracks these "trigger days" and anniversaries of loss.
Time after time, no matter how many years pass, I personally experience a nagging, achy, irritable, PMS-like sensation creeping up on me days before a personal trigger day (my brother's birthday, day he died, my Mom's birthday, day she died, Mother's Day and many others). I have discovered that there truly is a distinct somatic, or physical, aspect to grief and it can be extraordinarily uncomfortable.
Self Care Vs. Self Medicating
We may decide to plan a special, meaningful activity for a trigger day, but we should be prepared for the fact that it may still be a difficult day. I think it is important to know and affirm that it's okay to cancel those special plans and stay home wrapped up in a comfortable blanket with a cup of tea if need be. On my trigger days, I take the day off of work, stay home and take tub soaks, naps and wear comfy pajamas.
We must care for ourselves carefully
The way we care for ourselves in the first year of grief will lay the groundwork for the future. It is a heartbreaking fact that many devasting addictions to drugs, alcohol, food and other destructive behavior can grow out of the loneliness, discomfort and devastation of the 1st year after a traumatic loss.
During the first year of grief, the overwhelming physical discomfort of loss can combine with mental, emotional and spiritual pain - becoming too much to bear. I believe that many suffering and grieving people fall into addictions in their attempts to relieve the tremendous discomfort of the first year of grief. (Read more...)