Post by Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW

Care and Well-Being for Grievers and Their Supporters

Grief can be all consuming. It can monopolize our attention and drain our energy. When we are grieving, we can forget to tend to our well-being. This is also true when we are supporting someone who is experiencing raw, deep or complex grief.

Factors that support well-being become important as we work toward recovering in grief. We need ways to help us find our balance again as we adjust to a world without our loved one.

Compassion
Be gentle with yourself, and with others. We are all generally doing the best we can do under difficult circumstances.

Acknowledge the Pain and Suffering
Pain is inevitable. Suffering happens when we resist the reality of the pain. When we are able to admit that a situation is terrible and hurts us deeply, we shift into facing it and may begin to heal.

Communication
It’s important to be able to be honest, and to expect honesty in return. If you feel like you have to hide facts or feelings, it can be distressing. Be mindful that being honest doesn’t mean we must be blunt or harsh; we can be tender and kind in our honest moments.

Self-care for Stress Management
Eat well. It will help you fuel your mind and body and prepare you to handle whatever comes next. Move more. You can discharge some of the tension and use up some of your emotional energy when you move. Make sleep a priority. We heal, physically and emotionally, when we sleep. Connect with others who accept and understand your situation. When you feel acknowledged and validated by someone it can help you accept your situation.

Create a Safe Space
Whether it is a room in your home, just a corner of a room or some other place in your community, the availability of a safe space is important for a sense of well-being. This place will feel comfortable, and you’ll be able to let your guard down here. Perhaps there is a comfortable chair or bench for you to sink into. Maybe it is very private, allowing you to release your feelings with tears or other expressions of emotion without worrying about judgement.

Know Your Limits
It’s a good idea to try to notice your stress signals. Pay attention to what happens in your body. Do you get headaches, a knot at the back of your neck, tightness in your chest or clenching in your gut? Does your mind begin to race, distracting you and increasing your tension? When you become self aware, you can take steps to care for yourself at the earliest signs of distress rather than waiting until you are close to breaking down.

Ask for Help
Whether you are grieving, or trying to support someone you care about as they grieve, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need someone caring on our side sometimes to walk with us through the difficult parts of life and death.