Heartache hits all of us at one time or another. And loss is one heartache that makes it physically hard to breathe. It is hard to get out from under our grief.
The neighbors will mow their lawns. You’ll drop your kid off at school. And pay the bills. You’ll look fine on the outside, but on the inside grief feels like millstone, slowly grinding away at your soul.
It’s heavy. All encompassing. Exhausting.
It is also the one thing we can’t get away from. We are going to lose people we love. Or experience daunting scary challenges – a sick kid, a scary diagnosis, bankruptcy, divorce, death. We are going to get old, if we are lucky.
And we are going to have days that we just know we can’t get through. And then we will get through them.
And through all of this, we will keep going into the next moment, and the next day, and the next month and we will find pockets of hope and better feeling. Times when things feel a little lighter.
But, in the middle ground, when grief is no longer a surprise and yet it is still so overwhelming, we’ve got to find a way to get through.
Here are a few things that may help just a little bit to move through it.
See the nuances. Even in the midst of our greatest loss, somehow, the world keeps working. The sun physically comes up every day for us. The flowers bloom. The Internet works. Water runs out of the tap. When we are hurting, the simplicity of this might make as angry. Everything keeps working even when our world has fallen apart. But, sometimes, there can be peace in noticing just the smallest things. Noticing the little things that are working can root us in the moment just long enough to see a little good right in the middle of the bad. On the terrible, hard, days don’t suppress your bad feelings, but also find one piece of beauty or ease and cling to it. It eases the load a bit.
Know this terrible time will change into something less terrible. On an emotional level, you can’t know this, yet. Grief is so heavy and hard. But intellectually, you need to be open to the idea that while grief never goes away, it will change. It will become a bit more doable. There will be a new normal, one that also offers better feelings. You won’t be stuck in the bad forever. Life will be different for sure, but you won’t always be crushed by a trip to the bank, or a flower by the side of the road that your mom would have loved. Know this intellectually and when you are feeling swallowed up by heartache, let your brain remind you that this will change and you will get through. Even if your heart doesn’t know how, it will happen.
Sleep. Big emotions take a big toll and we need to leave ourselves plenty of space to restore and regroup. Take naps. Go to bed early. Give your body and brain room to rest. Sleep is restorative. It will also help you manage the stress that comes with finding your way into a new normal.