Coping with grief: 1 month on

I’ve been umming and ahing over whether or not to write this post, mostly because I’m tired of crying and I suspect writing it is going to induce a whole new bucket of tears. However, writing is one of the few ways I can organise my thoughts and work out what the heck is going on in my head. It’s like therapy for me. Plus, there’s always the chance it’ll help someone else in a similar position.

It’s been one month since my dad passed away, and eleven days since we said goodbye to my grandad. So it’s probably not a ‘normal’ month of grief, because after three weeks I got a fresh burst of it.

There are some days where I feel like I’m not coping. Life is hard, I miss my dad and my grandad, and when I try to imagine the future without them, I can’t do it without ending up in a blubbering mess on the floor.  Yesterday I went to the dentist with toothache and was told I’d need root canal treatment. I burst into tears right there in the chair, because on days like this, normal life situations seem daunting and overly stressful. (That said, I possibly would have done this two months ago, too. Dental work freaks me out).

Then on other days, I’m okayI’m not peachy, but I’m okay. I can prepare a simple meal, do a food shop, and run a couple of errands. Today is one of those days.

My life at the moment is a crazy roller coaster of emotions which I can’t get off. You can’t hit an emergency break on life. You can’t press pause and give yourself a timeout. You’ve just got to hang on tight, keep moving, and eventually the ups and downs, tight turns and loopy loops will level out to something vaguely resembling ‘normal life’. Where the only peaks in the track are the unexpectedly high credit card bill or the toast you burnt at breakfast. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

There are a few things I’ve been doing over the last few weeks which have been helping me to cope.

I’m talking
I’ve never been one to bottle up how I’m feeling, and I really do believe that talking things through can help. I’m very lucky in that I have a fantastic husband and really supportive friends. When I feel like everything is a bit too much, I tell someone. Every crazy or distressing thought I have, I tell Luke. I also had a counselling session. This is a great option if you’re not comfortable talking to a friend or family member, or if you want to talk to someone who doesn’t know you. My counsellor is amazing – she helps me understand my thoughts, and I always feel better after having spoken to her.

I’m respecting my limits
I like to have a lot on my plate. However grieving for two loved ones is using up the majority of my mental energy. At the moment, I’m struggling to make decisions and coordinate things, and everyday tasks are overwhelming. Rather than beating myself up over this, I’m respecting my limits. I’ve recognised that I can’t do the things I usually do. I can’t do my 9-5 job, I can’t write regular blog posts, I can’t make complicated meals, I can’t plan ahead more than 20 minutes… and that’s okay. I know that I will be able to do those things at some point, but for now I’m being patient with myself.

I’m reading and binge watching Gilmore Girls
Someone said to me that when you’re grieving, you’ve got to do whatever you can to get through each day. It’s going to be different for everyone, but for me it’s reading my favourite books and watching back-to-back episodes of something that makes me smile and provides temporary relief.

I’m being kind to myself
I’ve been an advocate for self care for a while now, but over the past month it’s taken on a whole new meaning. Self care doesn’t have to be a pretty bath bomb from Lush followed by Bridget Jones’ Diary while you’re tucked up on the sofa with fluffy socks and a fancy candle burning in the background. Self care for me  has been making sure I eat three meals a day, remembering to take my medication, ensuring I get plenty of sleep, not just ignoring my toothache and telling myself I’ll get to it later, and just giving myself a break. I can be my own worst enemy at times, so I’ve been working on being kinder and more patient towards myself.

I don’t know how the next month will go. I imagine it will be much of the same, but hopefully with a few more good days, and hopefully everyday life will be a little easier.

If you’ve lost a loved one, what are some of the things that helped you get through it? Please do let me know in the comments.

Photo (c) Jamie Street

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