Self-Care, Self-Compassion & Self-Talk Through Grief

While listening to an excellent podcast recently by Jodi Vlasman, who hosts Healing and Hope Through Grief, I was reminded of several themes we talk about often in grief therapy.

Our Supportive Care team would like to share these concepts in the hope they will be helpful in coping with any losses you may have experienced.

Self-Care means caring for yourself in a way that nurtures your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. When we fail to take good care of ourselves it can be difficult to function and it is also challenging to take care of others. Grief is exhausting, so small self-care strategies can make a significant impact.

Self-care may include replenishing your health habits, including eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water and getting exercise. It may mean developing a better sleep routine in order to help you get as much sleep as possible to help you cope with your grief. It may also look like replenishing your mind through reading, journaling or quiet reflection. It can include spending time with people who you feel comfortable with and who replenish your spirit. Exploring activities to re-ignite passion in your life can also be helpful as a form of self-care.
Other examples of self-care are going to the doctor or a mental health professional and asking for help, setting boundaries or saying ‘no’ when you need to and forgiveness towards yourself or others.

Self-compassion should be no different than having compassion for others. So why is it so hard? Many people we speak with who are dealing with their grief criticize themselves for things that happened before their loved one died. These criticisms may be for not doing enough for their loved one, not advocating hard enough, not realizing how quickly their loved one would decline. In their grief, they also can be hard on themselves for not being ready to return to work, or ready to socialize or not being able to be there for others in the way that they want to. Self-compassion means treating yourself as you would others that you care about. It is difficult to give yourself the same kindness and understanding you extend to others but it is important in your grieving process. Acknowledging how difficult it is and asking what it is that you need in the moment to care for and comfort yourself can positively impact your grief experience. Though it is hard not to judge yourself for struggling, it is nonetheless important to healing.

As part of self-compassion, how we talk to ourselves is critical. Self-talk is something we all do and how we speak to ourselves can make a big difference in how we view ourselves as well as the world around us. Our internal dialogue can be both negative and positive as well as encouraging or distressing. While facing grief, people often feel overwhelmed with emotions and may say to themselves that they don’t believe they can get through their grief. Self-talk of this nature is common, however it can increase stress and cause doubt in one’s
ability to use coping strategies and manage waves of grief. It may feel intolerable, but how we talk with ourselves about how we can cope with these feelings impacts how we actually do cope.

Self-care, self-compassion and positive self-talk are all challenging when facing a loss however they can be essential tools to living through grief.

For more information on these concepts or to inquire about Supportive Care grief and bereavement services please contact Sally Reaume at 519-354-3113 ext. 2406