Grief and Self Care

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You’re never prepared for the grief when a loved one passes, it’s not something you ever really expect to happen. We know it will happen to all of us one day but when it’s your parents you never really believe that day will come. Unfortunately for me it did come on July 8, 2018. I received news that my father had passed suddenly. A week plus later and I still don’t think I’ve truly accepted it.

Grief and Food

With grief comes a LOT of food. Friends and family from all over started delivering food to my parents house. Sandwich fixings, fruit, vegetables and dip, casseroles, desserts, bread, the list goes on and on. There is enough food to feed my mother for several months. Any willpower or sense of good eating goes out the window during this period as well. You’re spending so much time preparing for funerals, going through paperwork, pulling together pictures for the visitation, talking to financial advisers, lawyers and CPAs, meeting with the minister, calling the funeral home, that eating becomes a grab-what-you-can thing.   The other part of it is that you’re so overwhelmed with what has just happened that eating isn’t as important. My sisters and I all said we felt sick to our stomachs all week.
Between the grief, eating whatever was available, stress of making sure everything is in order, and processing what has just happened, your body goes into a sort of revolt. I believe that your body processes grief in such a way that it does make you feel sick to your stomach. You can’t tell if it’s hunger or sadness causing your stomach to revolt.

Self Care

During this very difficult time it’s important that you take some time for you, to make sure you are getting enough of what you need. I found myself trying to take care of everybody else. By the end of each day I was spent and had nothing left for me. I did manage to eat whatever was available but I don’t remember what that was. When I finally got home after a week away I had found that I lost one pound. While happy that I hadn’t put on the five I assumed I had, that one pound loss really didn’t matter.
In hindsight I probably could have eaten a lot better during that time. Had I been more cognizant of what I was eating I probably wouldn’t have had as bad of an upset stomach. I think I still wouldn’t have felt 100% but had I eaten healthy, nutritious foods it might have made things a bit better. My advice when going through such a sad experience would be:

1. Eat something

The worst thing you can do is get to the end of the day and realize you’ve had a breath mint and a cup of coffee. You still need to be able to function, grief or not.

2. Drink enough water

The emotions of grief take a toll on you and lack of hydration will tire you out even more than you already are.

3. Take care of you

You will most likely be surrounded by friends and family, all of whom are going through the grief with you. Remember to take the time for yourself that you need, whether it be to take a walk, take a shower, take a nap, or just have some quiet time alone with your thoughts.

4. Hold on to all the good memories you had with the person who has passed

In my case, it was my father. My sisters and I spent hours going through old pictures remembering everything we could about him. It was therapeutic and cathartic. There was a lot of laughter involved as well, looking at all the hairstyles and fashions over the years.

5. Remember that life will go on

Sometimes it will be unthinkable that life will continue without that person around, but it does. Time will help heal, although you will always love and miss that person. Time also allows you to remember more and more of the good times, and to re-live the good times regardless of how much you don’t want them to be over. Remembering and reminiscing keeps that person’s memory alive.

Dealing with grief is never easy. It’s not something you’re ever really prepared to endure. In my case I have a wonderful family who all loved my father dearly. Sharing the memories helped lessen the pain. Knowing I’ll never talk to my father again is a hard pill to swallow but knowing how much he loved and supported me is what keeps me going. It’s okay to be sad for what’s gone, but always be happy about what you had.