Monday, May 11, 2015

10 Things That Have Helped me with Grief (Part 2)

This is the list I came up with to share the top ten things that have helped me with grief. It got too long so I broke it up into two parts.  This is part 2.  You can read part 1 here.

Continuing the list:

6. Having a theme song: If you ask my kids, they will tell you that I always have a favorite song, and it usually changes weekly. I call it, "My jam!" as in, "hey kids, this is MY JAM!".  I chose a get-me-through-a-tough-time theme song on the very day Sue died, and although it changes sometimes, I always have a go-to song that will lift my spirits and make me feel tough or hopeful on hard days. Some of my theme songs have been Carry On by Fun., Brand New Day by Van Morrison, and Roar by Katy Perry.

Get lots of rest!

7. Being Social: I will admit that I am an extrovert. Being around other people pumps me up and makes me happy. After Sue died I didn't want to be around anyone. It was a huge change that I noticed right away, I started dreading spending time with other people. I realized pretty quickly that if I forced myself to talk with people, to get out of the house and spend time around other people, I felt better.  Maybe this would have the opposite effect on someone else, but for me it was essential to make plans with friends and then force myself to follow through. I don't think there has ever been a time while I have been grieving when I regretted making myself be social.

8. Writing: I cannot overstate how much having this blog has helped me. I have loved having a place to write out my memories of Sue, vent my sadness and frustrations, and just be my goofy self. If I was someone who really didn't want others to read my thoughts, I would definitely have started a journal and written about everything there. One of the first things my friend Donna did after Sue died was bring me a notebook. She told me that I would probably want to start writing things down.  Boy, was she ever right! I read somewhere that people who have suffered trauma/loss need to tell their story, then tell it again, then tell it again. I agree, and it has helped me so much to do so.

9. Ice Water: This is a weird one, I know.  I had to include it though, because I use this one all the time. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, angry, sad, or confused I have started telling myself, "Just get a glass of ice water and sit down." For me it is a symbol for taking care of myself. I use it to give myself permission to just sit and process things for awhile. I find ice water to be comforting, and Sue used to always tell me to "go lay down with an iced tea or something" when I was freaking out. I don't really care much for iced tea, so ice water it is!

When grieving, try to keep
your sense of humor
10. Counseling, Grief groups, Church: This is a big one, which is why I've left it for last. I have found that seeking out help when I need it is the hardest thing.  Why is it the hardest thing? I don't know, I guess I just like to believe that I can handle anything and everything on my own. I went to a grief support group a few months after Sue died, and walking in there felt like the hardest thing, ever. The support group didn't end up feeling like the right fit for me, but I still felt like I needed help. I ended up signing up for individual grief counseling through a program at a local university. I needed counseling and they needed people who were willing to be counseled by students who were in the last phases of getting their degrees. It worked out great for me. I got so much out of it, and it was free! I love knowing that the program exists, I keep the thought of it in my back pocket, knowing that I could always sign up again when/if I need more help. 

Church has been helpful to me since the first day I walked in, the year before Sue died. I didn't even realize how much I needed time to sit and reflect each week on how much God loves us all. Church, for me, combines meditation (prayer), rest (quiet reflection), reading books about people who have suffered major loss (LOTS of these stories in the bible!), and being social. I was very lucky to find a church that felt like the right fit for me right from the beginning. The people at our church have been a huge support to my kids and me. We feel comfortable there, and we have many opportunities there to help other people and organizations. It helps to take the focus off of our own suffering, and we come in contact with a lot of charities that remind us how good we really have it. I know that church is not for everyone. I never went to church until I was 38. But I do think if you can find a place, a community, where you can feel supported and help others, it helps with grief a lot.

So, there you have it, my list of 10 things that have helped me with grief. I hope this list helps someone out there.