Does the New Year make you feel a bit meh?
It kind of does with me. I admit, I am very, VERY glad 2016 is over. It was a very tough year and I am surprised I am still standing. So yeah, good riddance to 2016.
Although, let’s not kid ourselves. The last year was meant to teach me a few lessons and I do think I learnt a lot through these very rough patches. I also believe that if I don’t remember these lessons, 2017 won’t be much different.
This made me think about New Year’s resolutions so many people make. I am wary of those for our regular life and certainly think there is no such thing when it comes to our grief journey. But I couldn’t quite let go of the thought that we do have the power to decide where our grief journey will take us.
We can decide if the year ahead will be a dark one or one littered with light and happy patches.
How, you ask?
By putting yourself first.
Before you scream ‘selfishness’, ‘that is selfish’, let me elaborate.
Grief is tough. It is hard and relentless and always with us. Sometimes it hides at the back of our heads and lets us live a normal kind of life. During other times, it is all consuming and weighs so heavily on us, we can barely breathe. We remember our babies. We think of them, we miss them, we wish and wonder who they would have been.
It is a normal part of grieving but also one that is exhausting.
Hence we need to do look after ourselves. You might have guessed it, I am talking about self-care.
Yes, I have mentioned it before. But that is just because it is so, so important. It is one of my tough lessons from last year. If we all keep giving, giving and giving and never take a break to recharge, we burn out. We won’t be able to keep going.
And we all know how gladly grief takes from us and leaves us nothing in return other than more tears, exhaustion and darkness.
I often wondered last year how much longer I could keep going. Somehow, I managed but not well. This feeling of exhaustion, of being completely drained of energy has stuck with me for so long and I don’t want it anymore.
That was my thought at the end of 2016. I am done with feeling drained! The obvious cure for that is self-care.
Now, when I say self care, I mean doing and performing conscious acts that will provide us with relief, peace and some happiness. This could be a massage, a shopping trip or reading a good book or going for a run. Anything really that will help you feel better.
So far nothing new, right? We have heard it all before. The big difference this time round is to make time for it. Schedule self-care into your calendar. Make room for it. NOW.
Think about it – we schedule appointments to go to the doctor or to see a friend, we spend time making arrangements to get important tasks done. Why should self-care be any different? It is NOT selfish, it is necessary. So make time for it in your week.
It can be that you take weekly time outs for yourself or maybe fortnightly. Most important thing is that you do take time. You deserve a break from life, from grief and struggles. You are battling on a daily basis so this year, make sure that you also cut yourself some slack and do something good for yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you will grieve any less. It also won’t mean that you will ‘forget’ your precious babies in heaven. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty for doing something that you enjoy. You are worthy of it. Happiness still has a place in our lives, despite, or because of our grief. Our loss will never ‘go away’ nor will we ever forget about it.
But it is ok to feel good about something you are doing for yourself. It will give you energy and new purpose, even.
While I am still not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I do believe scheduling in self care for the year ahead on a regular basis is a good goal to work towards to.
It won’t always be easy. We all get caught up in daily life and its demanding tasks. That is ok. As long as we all try to go to that museum, read that book or take that class we have an eye on. Remember that this is not selfish in any way. Grief takes up so much space in our lives, it is ok to push it back a bit and make room for something nice.
So let’s do this!