I seem to wake up to news every day that magnifies the sense of loss that has become an undercurrent of my daily life. The deaths of loved ones, the daily losses of the pandemic, social injustices and divisiveness can leave me feeling stretched thin, like a rubber band about to break. I know that my experience is hardly unique, and seems to be universal. Grief counselors call what we are experiencing “cumulative grief.”
The experience of grief can be physically and emotionally stressful, and that stress is compounded when we are experiencing cumulative grief. Here are some suggestions for taking care of yourself at this time:
- When your feelings of grief comes up intensely, take a “mindful gap” to breathe and feel the physical sensations. Feel their intensity and then relax and let them go – over and over again if necessary.
- Because grief is so stressful on our bodies, be sure to eat nourishing foods (with the occasional indulgence in “comfort food”), and get plenty of rest.
- Move your body. Mindful walking is one of the most effective tools for moving through grief.
- Allow yourself to cry when tears come. And, at the risk of sounding like my dear departed mother, make sure to drink plenty of water, because crying is dehydrating.
- Maintain your meditation and other spiritual practices. If you can’t meditate some days as long as you had intended, give yourself a break, but continue to practice on a regular basis.
- Solitude can be helpful, but isolation is not. Avoid the urge to isolate yourself. Reaching out to just one person a day can help us avoid the
- Express your emotions in journaling, painting, collage or other creative form of expression. The word “ex-press” means to push out – We’re pushing out all the intense feelings and giving them space so that they’re workable.
- Talk to others who can listen. If your feelings are particularly intense or distressing, unduly interfering with day-to-day functioning or do not subside to a manageable level over time, reach out to a grief counselor or another professional trained in working with grief.
© 2021 Beth S. Patterson. All rights reserved.