How do you navigate your grief, let alone cope, when the world feels horrible? Losing a spouse is one of the most challenging experiences a person can go through. When the world feels like a dark and hopeless place, it can be challenging to find the strength to keep going.
Coping with the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss can feel like an insurmountable task, which is why it’s essential to take care of your mental and emotional well-being during this difficult time.
- Seek support: It’s important to have a support system of family, friends, or a grief support group. Talking to others who have gone through similar experiences can help you feel less alone and offer you valuable insight and coping strategies. Support can be friends, family, a faith group, or a widowed/grief group.
- Take care of your physical health: Grief can take a toll on your physical health, so it’s essential to take care of your body. This can include getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. Taking care of your physical health can help improve your mental and emotional well-being. I was shocked at the change in my physical health after the passing of my husband.
- Allow yourself to feel: Grief can bring a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and guilt. It’s essential to allow yourself to feel these emotions and not try to suppress them. This can help you process your grief and begin to heal.
- Acknowledge your feelings: In addition to feeling the feelings, it’s important to acknowledge and accept them. It’s OK to feel sad, angry, or overwhelmed. Give yourself permission to acknowledge and experience those emotions fully. This can be a difficult process, but it is essential to your healing. There are no grief police coming to tell you that you’re doing it wrong or condemn you!
- Engage in self-care: Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation can help improve your mood and reduce stress. It doesn’t need to be elaborate nor expensive! It can include activities such as reading, taking a bath, or practicing mindfulness. I have an entire list of self care activities listed in the resources page of my website.
- Celebrate the life of your spouse: Grief can make it easy to focus on the loss, but it’s important to remember the good times and the positive impact that your spouse or partner had on your life. You can do this by creating a memorial, planting a tree, or participating in a charity walk in their memory. You can create rituals around something special that your loved one enjoyed or appreciated. These activities will help you honor your loved one and keep their memory alive.
- Stay informed, but limit your exposure to negative news sources: It’s important to stay informed about what’s happening in the world, but too much exposure to negative news can be overwhelming. The same goes for social media. Checking in on your friends may be a source of additional discomfort and sadness. Set limits on how much news and social media you consume, and be selective about where you get your information.
- Cultivate gratitude: Practicing gratitude can help you focus on the positive things in your life. It is a way to learn to seek the positive, and to measure the gains in your life instead of the gaps. Take time each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for whether it’s your health, your relationships, or a beautiful sunset. There was a period of time when all I could focus on being grateful for was hot water and dish towels. Take it!
- Create a new identity: I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Creating a new identity for yourself can be a powerful way to move forward after losing a spouse and give you a sense of control. You don’t have to be defined by your loss. You can find new ways to define yourself, such as pursuing a new, hobby, volunteering, or taking a class. These new experiences can help you discover new passions and interests, which can be incredibly empowering.
- Seek professional help: If you’re struggling to cope with your grief, seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can be beneficial. They can offer support and guidance to help you navigate the challenges of grief.
Coping with the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss can feel daunting which is why it’s essential to take care of yourself during this difficult time. By focusing on what you can control, practicing self-care, staying connected, and cultivating gratitude, you can build resilience and find ways to thrive even when the world feels horrible.
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