Something catastrophic happens to our ability to care for ourselves when we go through a devastating loss.
We disown our body.
We detach from it.
We only feel and see our heads and our heart.
The physical body is forgotten.
We don’t shower, dress nicely, eat well, go to the doctors, move, rest.
We don’t care about it. We drag it through life as if it is not important.
And I am guilty as charged. The first two years after my loss I did not eat at all.
I could not put food in my mouth. I couldn’t even smell it.
Then when my grief started to move from sadness to anxiety, and when I truly understood the reality of it all, I started to use food to fill the void.
Still without care, without any care for my body.
And the really sad thing was that nobody told me that I was going to destroy my body after loss. Nobody said anything about that. I was going to starve it and then give it junk food because I was losing my mind with grief.
And here is the most surprising thing about the body – it has been the last part of me to come back to life. The very last.
I am writing these words and I can’t believe that I did not care for myself the way I should have done for all those years.
I am writing the letter I wish someone had written to me many times over the years, not just once. I needed to be shaken up many times over.
So.. if you have neglected your body since your loss please keep reading.
I am going to share with you a few things that are basic but will help you to get your body back sooner. And you need this body trust me, you need it.
Don’t be afraid to visit your primary doctor
You are going to go to your contacts on your phone, type the name of your doctor, dial his number and book an appointment for a check up. I don’t want you to think about this. I just want you to go and do it. It will take you less than three minutes and this has to be the first step back to your body. Because of your trauma, your grief, your new fears…the doctor’s office is the last place you want to go visit. I get it. But we must get your health in the best place possible so we can have the strength to do all the healing we have left to do. Also ask your doctor to check your thyroid please. Here is a book I personally own and use so you can see how important it is. Our thyroid gets really messy while we are grieving. And it stops functioning as it should. Let’s make sure it keeps working for you.
Your food intake
Now I am no nutritionist and will never be, but one thing I learned along the way has been that our gut connects with our brain. We have got to keep our gut healthy. We need to add probiotics into our diet and healthy fats. The more junk foods, the more your brain will stop working. And after loss we need as much brain power as possible. I need you to know that your gut plays an important role, more important than you thought. Go to the grocery store and get some real food for your fridge. My fridge was empty for the first two or three years after my loss. A good friend one day came over and brought me real food. I will never ever forget that. Here is a great book as well so you can read how important your gut health is for your brain. Also, for daily recipes go to www.savingdinner.com so it is easier for you to make something quick.
Clutter is something we need to get rid of when we are grieving. I also find this so very hard. It is important to create breathing space for you inside your house. I call it the breathing space after loss, where you can go and truly breathe, create and feel alive. Our homes are the extensions of our bodies, they need to make us feel good. I would start with just one room. Spend a day making this space feel like everything is going to be ok. Ask a friend to help you, do whatever it takes to get this one room in your house how you want it. I promise you it will make a huge difference. Also, here is a book that was a huge bestseller last year.
Your daily exercise
I used to run many miles the first two years after my husband passed. It helped me so much. But once I started to feel better the exercise stopped. I did not run anymore. I did not move as much anymore. It took me years to make exercise a part of my daily routine. I want to ask you to make a very small daily commitment at first. Something that does not sound or feel like too much. Even if you walk outside your house and go around the block, it’s enough. Do not sit at home all day without movement. It is not good for your body. And do not use work as an excuse to not exercise. Going around the block once, or doing a few floor exercises a day for 20 minutes will not get in the way of your schedule. If you want more help my good friend Michelle has a lot of tips for you here.
Remove stress from your body
I have to say one of the things that grief dropped off at my house and is still here nearly 10 years later is stress. My body still feels the stress of the trauma and of the years I spent trying to survive. The stress goes on your neck and on your back and it never leaves you. My ask for you is to find a local place for a massage, something close to your house so it is not difficult to get to. And make time for it once a month. That is all I am asking. We need to get your neck moving freely again and the stress needs to leave your body regularly so it does not become a permanent experience.
In other words help your body come back to you before it’s too late.
Don’t let grief destroy the part of you, you need the most. (Click to Tweet!)
Start with the doctor call and then go for a walk. Can we please try this?
PS: We are always here helping you come back to life after loss: www.thelifestarters.com
Thank you for sharing.. You are truly an inspiration.. I lost my brother from Kidney cancer 10.18.14 and 3 wks later my husband passed away from a brain aneurysm 11.9.14… This has really taken a toll on me, but I know I have to keep moving forward for our children. I know we will see eachother again in Heaven. I’m sorry for your loss my friend.
Sending luv your way, Theresa. That is rough. Strength, courage and honor being sent from me to you. Lost my husband to suicide 3 years ago. Never realized that Life can be so brutal to anyone. Sending support! Kim, TN
I lost my partner two hanging he spoke to me while doing it on the phone hardest thing I ever had to face I struggle to take care of my body mind ….. I no he won’t come back how do I move on….
Thank you Christina. It has been three years since I lost my mother to.dementia. I was her primary caregiver for a long time. Ive sought counselling because I did not receive the support I needed from family. Some spoke as if I should be relieved that shes gone and I can move on with living. I internalized a lot of wrong beliefs from others thinking I should be over it by now. I never knew how much I neglected my physical self. I thought it was laziness and I would admonish myself for it. But your article has hit home. Thank you for your gentle encouragement.