Sometimes all you can do is stop still, be in the situation that you are in and become totally involved with it. This is how I found myself at the beginning of the new year, as the life of the person I thought would never leave me stopped and I was given no choice but to enveloped by the ceasing of his life.
There are thousands of blogs out there that will give you “7 tips to deal with stress”. Everything from making smoothies, going to your local yoga class, climbing a mountain and quitting sugar.
At the end of the month I can safely say that non of it meant jack for me.
Smoothies - I have spent a month not knowing how to boil a pan of peas; it took both myself and my youngest brother to figure that one out and it took us half an hour. I wasn’t able to taste food for a week, and the sight of my kitchen, let alone raw ingredients, left me feeling shaky. Friends from our Church delivered food for three weeks to make sure my family were fed as we sure as heck couldn’t do it.
Quitting sugar - Are you kidding me?! I have enjoyed every bit of chocolate in front of any girly rom-com that Netflix can offer.
Yoga Class - Honestly? Being in a class for more than 5 minutes would have floored me; it would be a group of people and someone telling me what to do. And plus, my body just wanted to curl up in a foetus shape and cry.
Climbing The Mountain - A good day was when I could climb out of bed and make it to the shower.
For me, the sofa with only my closest friends who wouldn’t judge me, wine and a lot of Kleenex to catch the tears has been the only thing I wanted to do in the evenings.
So this blog is for the fit and healthy as it’s my very personal advice PRE grief, stress and life falling apart. There are things you can do to make the pit of darkness a glimmer brighter, but you may not be doing any of it whilst you are feeling like the world needs to stop and go dark. You need to put the time and effort in now so you can draw on it later.
Exercise And Nutrition
A month of not wanting to move through grief and stress is perfectly acceptable, but having the fitness to
do it makes it so much easier.
When I talk of exercise, I mean a daily dedication to walking, moving, stretching and strength training and this has to be in your own capacity. If walking means going from room to room in your house, or doing an extra 20 steps from the disabled parking space to the shop door that is amazing! You can maybe put an extra water bottle in your bag when you are out and about, and you will automatically be gaining strength through the extra weight you are lifting - small incremental stuff is what we are after here. Working with a Rehab Specialist and Physiotherapist is ideal for this as you surely won’t have to do this on your own.
If, like me, you are able and want to make sure you are gaining more strength and stamina, then personal training could be the way forward. Working twice or three times a week with someone who understands your body, can encourage you to build on what you already have is a great way to make sure you can emotionally crash in good health.
A month away from the gym maybe what you need, (like me), or it could give you the structure that you need to help you through the really tough times, (like my brothers). When you go through stuff, it may be that you want to go to the gym and see your trainer, but not actually do anything much apart from lift light, or sit on the bench and just be in the space. It’s all o.k.
Working with your trainers and rehab workers will also give you the education you need about nutrition that is good for you personally, not your brother, your mum, or the friend across the road. When you work with people who are nurturing your body, you end up with a great health savings account, and this is what you can draw upon when it all goes wrong.
If you have had a great diet and you eat well, your body won’t moan too much if, like me, all you do is eat fish and chips, drink tea and wine and don’t see a vegetable for a couple of weeks. You’ll bounce back as your savings account is keeping you afloat.
Learn To Be Kind
Learning to be kind to yourself and others is a total mindset and it can take up to a year to take it from “thinking” it to “living” it. Making it your way of life will make the grief much easier.
You will need your freinds more than ever at this time, and it's the time you learn who your friends really are. You need love and kindness; if you have spent your life practicing giving these qualities to others around you, you will find a safty net of loving hands ready to catch you as you fall aprat.
Grief is so personal and no one can tell you what you should be feeling or when. Waves ebb and flow and they are on your own tidal chart. When they crash over you it hurts like nothing else, but they may not be crashing on the others around you in the same way, so give yourself and others space to be themselves. It’s real, brutal and honest. Don’t be cruel and impose societies niceties on yourself or your loved ones. Just be real in the moment and let it come and go.
Skin Care And Style Through Grief
Believe me, just stick to your basic routine. Cleanse, hydrate, moisturise and let that be it. You don’t need makeup on; the tears will just wash it off and leave you with panda eyes. Keep it simple, don’t stress about it, and if you only do this you will look just fine for the space you are in.
I made a 15 minute space last week to tint my eyelashes and shape my eyebrows before the funeral, and actually I advise this one bit of makeup investment. I could cry and it didn’t matter and it made me look awake.
Was and brush your hair, but don’t worry about styling it if you don’t feel like it. A pony tail will work brilliantly.
Wear your favourite perfume - I have done this every day since January 2nd and it’s brought me such comfort. When I am feeling my worst, the smell of it comforts me and warms my heart. It also makes me feel as if I have made an effort, which I have!
There will be no end to missing Dad. The grief of not being able to see the one you love doesn’t leave you. But I hope that this small offering helps you be easy on yourself as you go through it. Or if you haven’t experienced it yet, I hope you read this and take note - look after yourself now so it is easier later.
Health isn’t just about cholesterol levels, diabetes, blood pressure or disease. Health is about life and how we live it and grieve for the loss of it.