In today’s society we are in such a rush to get on with things that when a loved one dies we don’t fully understand the need to slow down. Indeed North American and British societies support this with the fact they only give three days bereavement leave for close family members. As a result there is an expectation that we can move through grief quickly and it becomes challenging when this doesn’t happen.
In order for us to successfully navigate grief we need to have both the time and space to deal with it. It’s not about waiting for time to pass in the hope that you feel better but more about allowing yourself time to experience the grief you feel. Even when we have the time to grieve they can be very good at not giving ourselves space. We distract themselves from grief by watching mind-numbing television or eating comfort foods amongst other things.
When we are grieving it is a time of stripping away all unnecessary obligations in our lives. It is a time of focusing on taking care of ourselves. This means paying attention to how we are sleeping. It means focusing on what we are eating. It means getting regular exercise, even if it’s only a short walk every day.
I’ve heard people say that they aren’t able to focus on things like this because they are in too much emotional upheaval. The fact that they aren’t focusing on these things is exactly why they are feeling the way they do.
When we experience the death of a loved one stress chemicals are released in our bodies. They affect our ability to function as well as weaken our immune system. If we don’t focus on the small things such as sleep, food and exercise we aren’t able to support our body through grief.
Grief is exhausting and tiring. We need to honor this as well as ourselves in the process. If we don’t, the stress chemicals produced by our body can actually interrupt our ability to process our grief.
Take a look at your life right now. Discover what things are preventing you from really giving yourself the time and space to move through grief. Identifying the obstacles gives you the power to do something about them. It doesn’t even have to be a big change. It’s amazing what can happen from a small change.
Questions for Self-Reflection:
- How can you give yourself time and space to grieve?
- Who do you need to ask for help to achieve this?
- What would be the benefits for you to do this?
- What effect would this have upon your grief?