Grief Specialist: Aftercare
Loss is many things
We'll take a little time here, thinking about, feeling how society frames rules and structures on productivity, and does or doesn't value loss and how that can be in direct conflict with our inner needs and experiences as individuals, family groups, friendships, social groups and so on.
Special Needs After Loss.
First, let's talk a little about types of loss
Loss of relationship: divorce, friendship, partnership, work environments, self-identity, community, animal companions, exposure
Loss through death: people near, animal companions, loved ones, cause of death
Loss of home, or place, security, body indentity through illness or accident or even gender orientation,
Loss of another due to their response to loss...
You can see the categories can continue to encompass many things that are full feeling and life changing.
Being: gentle noticing
This is a topic of compassion and noticing, a gentleness of presence, even if there is a full spectrum of emotion or flatness or rage or roller coaster experience. This is a time of recognizing that it is a time like no other, regardless of what the "expectations" are and that each of us are unique. There may be similarities in experiences, or even responses that make it relatable to each other, but there is also a uniqueness to how each of us will respond and what will need. Even each experience, regardless of how often we confront loss in our own lives, will be different. There is no full on - "been there, done that," or "last time, I." Step by step, it is new.
The First Days
For many people, the first days can be filled with tasks, regardless of the type of loss. There are often tasks, paperwork, research, notifications of some sort or another. A busywork, that can mask the shock or mollify the emotional spaces into some sense of disjointedness, until the quiet comes. This is why many traditions sit with one another, do the basic things for a person, gather, bring food. The disjointedness, the autopilot, or wandering disconnect is a strange shock-like feeling. It may feel or present differently depending on the person, the circumstances of the loss, the community or network the person has or does not have around them, and so on.
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Our bodies may also eat, sleep, be differently. Our minds may want different things, decide in differing methods than usual, more or less clarity in decision making. What can you do with yourself in this condition? There are many ways to answer this. But, regardless of your unique situation, start with very, very basic things of self- care.
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Gentle foods. Digestion is responding to a physiology of stress. Simple, small amounts of nutritious food and drink, even if you don't feel like anything. Have a multi-vitamin, with a b complex to support your system. Wash. Wear comfortable clothes. Have a moment of outside air, just listening and experiencing whatever the cycle of nature is. It is not for some cosmic reason, other than we are a part of it, and it gets you out of your head into something bigger, the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.
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Primitive Remembering for your body regulations. Keep music, media, people, etc, to what is most supportive and easy. Start simply. The first few days. Simple as can be. Regulating your system to be whatever it needs to be, while also telling yourself you are safe on some basic level, you are ok enough to have this experience be whatever it is going to be. The body doesn't know this.
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Guide it through so it can
support your emotions as they come and go.
The society says this, and your personal experience says otherwise sometimes. Your healing from loss can be simple or complex, can be layers that take time, or not. It is yours to discover at your own pace. What will support you? May take some exploration, trial, and gently honesty. Learning how to meet yourself, "Who am I now" not when can I get back to ... might be a way to start. After certain kinds of losses, we are changed. Decoding what those changes are, and if we agree with those changes or want to move into a different direction with them is another step.
Accept or reject how we were taught to speak to ourselves when we meet challenges. Special attention to the voices in your head when we are facing troubled times. How long should it take to feel X? When will I get back to normal? Get over it already! Why can't I just...?! Whatever languaging you may be using with yourself that is critical, pushy, unkind... ask, where does that come from? is it helpful? is this how I best learn or feel safe? If people around me are speaking to me this way, how does that feel? Do I want to be with them when I feel vulnerable? Do I trust them with my needs? Begin finding a more productive and compassionate, helpful way of thinking and speaking to yourself, and if you don't have people in your life who speak with you in this way, consider finding people who do. You can decide where the other people place in your life, but also, find your village, within you and around you to support you now. And challenge the languaging that creates isolation and more despair instead of safety, healing, growth.