When a loved one passes away, and you enter into a season of grief, it can be hard to know what to do next. You might be thinking, “How do I go on?” or “When will I start feeling like my old self?”
For people like me who always like to have a plan in place, here are four simple steps to help you through those early stages of grief when you simply don’t know what else to do.
During this time, all you have to do is REST:
R – Re-hydrate: Make sure you are drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Hydration has a major effect on energy levels and brain function. I actually love drinking water, but I know many people who don’t. If drinking water is something hard for you to do, perhaps add lemon or other fruit to your water. I keep a bottle of water on my desk at all times and constantly sip throughout the day. The sips really add up!
E – Exercise & Eat: The last thing you probably want to do while grieving is to exercise and eat well (or at all). However, I have found that getting some type of exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block on a nice day, or 20 minutes on the treadmill has really helped me clear my head. And when it comes to eating, the last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping and prepare any type of meal, especially a healthy one. Thankfully, my coworkers chipped in and gave me numerous gift cards to local restaurants such as Panera, Bob Evans, Chipotle, and Applebee’s with a card that read, “No cooking. No cleaning. No worries.” This meant so much to me, and was really a lifesaver thrown out to me in my darkest days of grief. While I didn’t feel like cooking, I could easily order soup and salad from Panera, and pick it up to feed my family. I could sit at Chipotle and eat a burrito bowl while my son happily devoured guac.
S – Sleep: Thankfully, when my dad died, I never had any issues sleeping. At the end of the day, I always felt so mentally and physically exhausted so I couldn’t wait to slip under the covers. Unfortunately, I know many people that struggle with sleeping after a loved one passes. Sleep is so important for the healing process. For me, I would try to read before bed or meditate. I downloaded an app called Simple Habit and listened to the free meditations while I drifted to sleep. And I would always try to catch up on extra sleep during the weekend.
T – Take Care: During the beginning stages of grief, it is crucial to be kind to yourself. Self care is so important. I signed up to attend GriefShare, and it was a dedicated time for me to focus on my grief and my healing. I had friends who invited me to the movies or to dinner. And even when I necessarily didn’t want to go, I still did and I enjoyed myself. It is okay to put yourself first.
That’s it. Just REST. Give yourself grace and time. You might be frustrated because you want to be doing everything you were doing before. It can wait. Honor yourself, and honor your loved one by leaning into the basics. It might seem like you are in survival mode, and that is okay. You are doing the best you can. You can do this, even when you think you can’t.