Taking care of ourselves is one of the most important parts of the grief process. We hear often from those who are grieving that it feels like people in their lives don’t know what to do or say, or how to take care of them when they are struggling. Because of this disconnect, it is essential for us to be able to tell people how to support us and also learn how to take care of ourselves when it seems like the people in our lives aren’t always getting it. This can be exhausting—but the strategies below can help significantly.
5 ways to care for yourself when no one around you seems to “get it”:
- Accept that people try their best to be there, and sometimes it is not enough. Our grief can feel big even to us, and that is okay. It is a sign of the deep love we have for our person. Accepting that how others show support is more of a reflection on them, not on your feelings or experience.
- Remember that it may feel like people do not know how to support you, but that might not be a fact. It is natural for friends and family to not get it totally right, especially if they have not experienced a death. Blaming them for not getting it right and pulling away is not the answer. Understand that we are all trying our best, including you, and tap into the support where and when it is offered.
- Do inner reflection. Through reflecting on what we need to take care of ourselves, we are actually doing just that. Take time to look inward and listen to your innate wisdom; that allows us to process our emotions which is crucial to self-care. A routine of journaling for 15-20 minutes in a comfortable, quiet place in the morning or before bed can be an excellent way to practice self-care. “Headspace” and “Calm” are two apps that offer meditations that can help start your meditation practice. Moving your body with a walk is another way to begin to listen to yourself and your needs.
- Choose one to two people who you know want to support you. It is easy to make assumptions about friends being busy to support us. Or maybe we do not want to burden them with our feelings. But that is usually not the case. Identify one or two people who you can be yourself with, talk openly with, and maybe even share a cry or a laugh with. In doing so, you are able to remember there is support around you. Try inviting that person out for a coffee, or over for a movie that you’ve been wanting to watch. Starting small with social interactions is a helpful way to re-engage with your life and ultimately take care of yourself.
- Choose a hobby or interest that you’ve been wanting to try. When we are intrinsically motivated to engage in a hobby or activity, we are more likely to follow through with it and also get more out of it. Have you been wanting to learn how to make candles or paint clay figurines? Take a dance class? Volunteer at a local animal shelter? Maybe there was a dream you had as a kid that you’ve never done and can start now. When you tap into interests that are just yours, and feel the nudge to begin to do something again, you are taking big steps to take care of yourself.
Molly Giorgio PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and the Clinical Director of Experience Camps for boys in Maine. Prior to becoming Clinical Director, she was a clinician at the Experience Camps for girls in Maine, which was an experience that changed her life, and started her love of Experience Camps. When she is not at camp, she has a private practice where she sees clients virtually in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. And when she does not have her psychology hat on, Molly is spending time with her husband and their three-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog.