Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recharge And Balance As You Mourn

"It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds... "
Thomas Aquinas

The pain and suffering inflicted by a great loss, though necessary and inescapable, deplete physical and emotional energy on a daily basis. The turmoil is inescapable because we have chosen to love. Therefore, it is essential that as part of your mourning rituals and grief work to plan specific times for replenishing energy stores by finding ways to allow mind and body to unwind. I am not advocating trying to sidestep the pain of grief. We all have to face it and feel it go through us.

However, balancing the pain with periods of recharging is an absolutely essential coping strategy in dealing with your great loss. I repeat, it is part of coping well. Otherwise, it is a surefire thing that you will develop some kind of physical illness, increase intense emotional suffering, or both. Begin immediately to compile a list of what I call "balancing activities," things you normally enjoy doing. Compile the list over a week or two as you remember some pleasant activities.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with pampering yourself as you mourn. Sure, like anything else it can be overdone. But it is critical that you allow it into your thinking as a normal need when grieving the death of your loved one. I'm not talking about taking an expensive trip or overspending but each day choosing from a list of small pleasures to engage in. You will not be demeaning the memory of your loved one by doing so. Here are some things to consider for your balancing list.

1. Draw on the treasure house of your imagination and memory to think back on your childhood days. What were the things that delighted you? What were your interests? Can you bring them back into this stage of your life? Take the time to do this in a quiet and peaceful place. If you liked painting, drawing, photography, tending the garden or going to museums, etc. decide to pick up on an old interest and run with it. Admit to yourself that you need to change in order to adapt. Finding an old interest (or a new one) is a place to start.

2. Use your smartphone, computer, or iPad to find pleasing quotes or pleasant music (if appropriate, music your loved one liked) to play that soothes or inspires. Create your own playlist. Give yourself a generous dose of your favorite tunes at various times during the day. It is well known that music has positive effects on brain function and blood circulation as it helps fight stress.

3. Feed your spiritual self. Start talking and listening to God every day. Listening is as important as talking. Take a prayer walk in your favorite nature setting and get some sun. Twenty minutes of sunshine, without sunscreen, will also fill your daily requirement for Vitamin D3. This vitamin not only strengthens bones and joints but helps build up your immunity and make inroads on depression.

4. Take a refreshment break at your favorite smoothie store, coffee shop, or health food store. You will end up being around people. And if you become a regular you are bound to interact and enjoy some good conversations. Decide where you are more likely to find friends after several visits and then favor one location over others. Also consider trying new places over time. Make a refreshment break one of your new routines.

5. Take out a membership at a local gym. Every other day, take a very light, or if you prefer, a heavy workout. This could turn out to be one of those new routines that will bring you better health and some new friends. Ask one of the instructors to suggest a good stress release technique you can start practicing. Here's one I recommend. It is called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Go to for a free download manual. Get to know yourself better.

6. Be open to giving and receiving hugs. Human touch is so important to how we feel about ourselves and what it does for good health. And the science is there to prove it. At the close of every grief support seminar I conduct, I ask participants to give the person next to them a hug. It always turns out that everyone ends up hugging everyone else. Never forget, touch possesses one of the greatest resources for restoring energy. It never fails.

7. Start a telephone group as part of your Give List (A Give List is a great way to give something to someone each day and it will positively change your inner life). Find a couple of friends or relatives that you can call on a daily basis. Or make a pact with a friend you met in a support group that you will call each other every couple of days to see how things are going. Here you can trade your best kept secrets on how you are dealing with your loss.

The above are only a tiny few of the many things you can do to give yourself a break from grief. Then you can continue your grief work with renewed energy and a mind open to realizing the role you alone must play in adapting to your great loss.

Weave loving care of yourself every day and you will surely make it through the changes that must be faced.

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