The Benefits of Giving to Yourself and Others During the Grieving Process
Grief is messy. There is no one right way to go through it, and it looks different for everyone. But one thing that seems to be consistent is that many people focus on the person they lost when grieving as opposed to focusing on themselves.
However, taking care of yourself and those around you who are involved in the same grief can help you move through the grief. You are not selfish or inconsiderate if you focus on your needs and treating yourself after losing someone.
Think of it this way, we look for ways to support others when they are grieving, so why is it so hard to support ourselves? It shouldn’t be.
So, let’s take a look at the ways you can give to yourself and others after a loss and how it can help you through the grieving process.
Self-Care During the Grieving Process
It’s not uncommon for people who are grieving to neglect their needs. They stop eating healthy, they lose sleep, and they isolate themselves. But doing these things can make you feel worse, making it harder to process your grief. Some common coping methods like reaching for caffeine or alcohol can actually increase stress and exacerbate sleep issues.
As Audre Lorde once said, “I had to examine, in my dreams as well as in my immune-function tests, the devastating effects of overextension. Overextending myself is not stretching myself. I had to accept how difficult it is to monitor the difference. Necessary for me as cutting down on sugar. Crucial. Physically. Psychically. Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
So, it’s not only important to practice self-care while grieving, it’s imperative. Doing so can help you avoid negative thoughts and depression, boost your serotonin levels, and help you feel more energized and ready to tackle each day — all things that can make the grieving process easier.
Some ways you can take care of yourself after losing someone include:
- Eating regular, healthy meals;
- Meditating and practicing positive thinking;
- Scheduling time each day to do something that makes you feel social and fulfilled;
- Making sure you continue to bathe and keep up your personal hygiene;
- Go outside for a walk or simply bathe in the sun streaming in through your windows;
- Immerse yourself in the things you are good at that make you feel proud of yourself;
- Take comforting warm baths or do a face mask;
- Curl up in a warm blanket and listen to music or read a book;
- Turn on music and relaxing with a good tune;
- Take time to just stop and breathe;
- Go on a hike;
- Getting regular exercise, like yoga or running.
Getting good sleep is also an important part of self-care that can help you better handle your grief. So try creating a relaxing bedtime routine to help you sleep well each night. This can include:
- Getting new comfy bedding;
- Keeping your bedroom dark;
- Using a sound machine;
- Using aromatherapy to help you relax;
- Limiting screen time within 1 hour of bedtime;
- Writing in a journal to get your thoughts out before bed.
Although these activities may seem small in the face of all of your grief, they add up over time. In some cases, they can give you a routine to anchor yourself to when your grief storms around you.
Gift-giving After Losing a Loved One
Giving to others can also help you feel better during the grieving process, and it helps the other person who is grieving feel better too, of course. Research shows that giving to others can affect the chemicals in our brains and boost our mood — both for the person giving the gift and the person receiving the gift.
Furthermore, giving to others can teach you how to have a more positive financial mindset, which can further improve how you feel about yourself during the grieving process. So, don’t be afraid to pred the love and give gifts when you are grieving or when someone else is grieving.
Some gift ideas for grieving include:
- A cozy throw blanket;
- A restaurant gift card;
- A cleaning service gift certificate;
- A picture frame;
- A food basket;
- A grief journal;
- A coloring book;
- A fitness class gift certificate;
- An aromatherapy bath kit.
More than anything, remember money isn’t everything. The act of simply giving a gift — no matter how small or even if it’s homemade — shows that you were thinking of someone else during your busy schedule.
Collective Mourning and Mental Health Support
Grief isn’t just felt by people as individuals, but it can also be a collective experience. Community grief happens when an entire community, village, society, etc., shares in their grief after losing someone or even multiple someones, such as after a tragic event. Allowing yourself to be a part of that collective mourning can also help during the grieving process and is, in a way, like giving to yourself or giving to others.
When we share our grief, it allows the burden to be carried by many as opposed to being carried by one or few, which can make grieving easier. One way to do this is to participate in the community grieving rituals, such as by hosting or partaking in community memorial services, group grief sessions, vigils, and public funerals.
Showing up for these things is a gift in the form of an act of solidarity. You can even look into psychological first-aid training, so you can offer mental health support to the community. Giving to others and yourself isn’t always about buying gifts but is also about showing up and offering emotional support in whatever way people need.
Remember, everyone grieves differently. Just because giving to yourself and others has benefits doesn’t mean you should force the giving if it doesn’t feel right. In the end, grieving should be about doing whatever feels right for you and allowing yourself the space to feel whatever it is you are feeling.
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