I am really big on self care. The reasons for it seem obvious. It benefits our heart and souls, gives us new energy, a break away from the daily grind and is a time where it is just about us. Day trip to the spa? Don’t mind if I do! A little get away over the weekend? Sign me up! Self care is exactly that and more.
I also find self care is easier said than done. We all know we should look after ourselves. Some of us think we are actually already doing it. And some of us really want to do it but are so used to putting their needs last, they never to practice self care. This is a common scenario in everyday life for many people. It is hard enough to look out for our own wellbeing when we are caught up with our daily routine, stresses and challenges. Now imagine adding a whole new level of complexity to it when you are in the midst of grief and are supposed to ‘look after yourself’! Who came up with that crazy idea?
It does seem crazy to put thought into what makes us feel better when we are in the midst of grief where nothing makes sense and we can’t shake that dark cloud surrounding us. We miss our baby that died and that hole it left in our heart and soul seems like a sinkhole that swallows up our entire being. In moments like these, there is not much self care to be done. It is about surviving. It is about getting through the days, hours and minutes without our loved one near us.
I am personally not sure if in those first hours and weeks of grief where we try and recover from the shocking loss we suffered anything else but grieving is possible. But you know what? That is ok.
The question is though – when the first wave of grief is dying down, what do we do then?
I often look back onto my grief journey and I wish I would have had taken things a bit easier. Not that grieving is ever easier. But really, I should have allowed myself to indulge a bit, buy that t-shirt or that book and giving myself a little present.
Instead, I denied myself these little pleasures because I thought I wasn’t worthy. After all, I just lost my baby that I couldn’t carry. My oh my. Thoughts are such powerful companions. Especially the negative ones tend to stick around and settle in quickly. Thoughts such as ‘I am not worthy’ or ‘I have failed’ became part of my daily thinking. With such a mindset, no self care is possible.
So, first of, we need to have the right mindset. You are utterly worthy of looking after yourself. You are worth of feeling good. You deserve happiness, love and joy – especially after a devastating loss like losing your baby. It might seem like an impossible task to muster positive thoughts when the world we used to know lies in ashes and ruins.
Remember though to take one small step at a time. Self care doesn’t have to be a grand gesture like leaving the house and going shopping. It can be something like allowing yourself to stay in your pjamas all day and cry when you feel like it. Allowing such emotions to exist is part of healing. As you heal, you take care of yourself.
So don’t be afraid to spend a day in bed, eating peanut butter sandwiches and watching trashy TV shows.
Self care can be something like writing a letter to your baby, spilling your grief onto paper.
Anything that helps you get through that rough patch and makes you feel better, is taking care of yourself and your emotions.
Of course, times will still be hard. That won’t change. The journey through is never quick and never easy but we can make it a bit more bearable by allowing ourselves to just be. A day where you don’t put on a brave face and fake smiles but instead hide or be quiet is self care. Self care means you play by our own rules for a little bit and not by society’s rules of hiding grief and pretending you are fine. It means that you allow yourself to be – on your own terms!