Self-care…what is it, exactly? Obviously, self-care would mean caring for yourself, but how exactly do you do that when your heart is shattered and you can barely think or feel? Then after the shock fades and the depression sets in, what now? It’s possible that you just don’t feel like doing anything at all but staring into space.
I’ve been there, through all of those moments. I remember feeling like I would never feel anything but sadness ever again, and that nothing mattered because my son was gone.
In the almost 4 months since losing Jonah, I’ve learned a heck of a lot about self-care. I honestly had never even heard the term before, because it was just something I did naturally. When you’re grieving, though, it’s really easy to just completely forget about it. You have to make an effort to care for yourself, because it doesn’t come naturally anymore.
No matter how far out you are from your loss, practicing self-care is the best thing you can do for your broken mother’s heart <3. Here are some things that have helped me – I hope they can give you some ideas too.
Massages – I’ve been an anxiety sufferer for a couple years now. Before losing Jonah, massages helped ease my anxiety, because I carry a lot of it physically. After losing Jonah, massages somehow feel even better. It’s like my grief and my anxiety are just worked out of my muscles every time I go. It’s amazing. Now, the only issue with this is, they’re expensive, so it’s hard to go often (or even at all). If you can’t afford it, invest in a couple tennis balls and use them to roll around on your back, shoulders, thighs, and feet to release some tension.
Bubble baths – I do my best thinking when I’m in the bath. It’s where I’ve had ideas for blog posts, I’ve had ideas for new things I want to do in the loss community, I’ve cried, I’ve written to Jonah, I’ve laughed…I just end up feeling the most “real” while I’m in the bath, if that makes sense. There’s nothing in there that’s calling my attention away from what’s in my head, and I just think a lot and feel a lot more. It relaxes my body and allows my mind to do whatever it needs to do in the moment. I almost always use lavender bubble bath, because it’s so relaxing and lovely.
Yoga – Once upon a time, I was a yoga skeptic. That is, until I tried it! I am the least flexible person you’ll ever meet, so I have to just do all of the poses to the best of my abilities, but it’s seriously amazing. You don’t have to go crazy with it – just “slow flow” or “gentle” yoga classes will help you put movements and breathing together, which is what really helps my anxiety and helps me feel connected to my body, after it betrayed me so bitterly. You don’t even have to spend money on it, if you’d rather not – just use this wonderful yoga channel on YouTube.
Walking – Just simply going for walks helps me with my grief. Something about being outside helps me feel like yes, my boy is gone, but there’s still beauty in this world, and so many reasons to enjoy life. The walking feels great, too, and helps me reconnect with my body, similar to how yoga does. If I stay inside and immobile for too long, I get sucked down into the grief spiral.
Reading – I’ve read a number of memoirs since my loss, as well as just some fiction that pulls me into a world that’s not my own for a bit. Reading was one of my hugest comforts before Jonah, during Jonah, and after Jonah. Especially if you can find comforting reads or books you really like that’ll take your mind off of everything for just a little while, or if you can find some that are inspiring, it really, really helps to read. Of course, reading blogs online helps as well :]
Writing/Journaling – This blog started in my notebook, with my first heartbreaking letters to Jonah. I wrote my heart into my notebook, and then I used those notes to start this blog. Actually, my first couple letters to Jonah were written in the bathtub :] Writing has been the most cathartic thing I can possibly do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing on a blog or in a journal, just putting your feelings somewhere is SO helpful. Pour both your hard and good feelings out onto paper.
Self-Exploration Journaling – After such a difficult loss, you change. You no longer know yourself, and that’s one of the most difficult parts of losing a child. I received the Start Where You Are Journal as a gift (link is in the sidebar to Amazon), and it has helped me immensely in realizing that I’m still me in there – just changed in some important ways.
Support Groups – I found a local support group where I was able to meet and form friendships with other mamas going through similar things. I’ve also found a huge, wonderful support group on Instagram. These women – the ones who’ve been through this – are the only people on Earth who really understand what I’m going through. Seeking camaraderie with them has been oh, so helpful.
Grief Support/Therapy – My therapist, being a loss mom herself, is an amazing resource. I see her every week, and I don’t know where I’d be without her. Just when I think I’m going off the deep end, she reels me back in by helping me see that what I’m going through is “normal”, and that I’m doing however I’m supposed to be doing. When I feel like I’m completely insane, she makes me feel validated and….well, not as crazy.
Now, please tell me what works for you! Crafting? Coloring?