Bereavement advice

Today, it is just over a month since my mother passed away.  At the end of every year, season, month, we all say "Oh my, time has really flown, I can't believe we're in xxx month already".  Well, I can confirm that when you're grieving, time does not fly past and actually, these weeks have felt like months, years almost.  When you're grieving, time seems to slow down because you can so easily get lost in your own thoughts and your feelings really weigh you down.  After my mother's death, there was a lot to organise and when the date for the funeral had been set, there was a tight deadline by which preparations had to be done.  So this kept me very, very busy.  But after the funeral, when she had been laid to rest, and things started to calm down, I found that's when it really hit me.  With silence came the realisation that she had gone and that's when I started caring again.  But this time, I was caring for myself and not someone else.  I focused on healing and finding myself again.

Self care
Self care is looking after your body and mind both physically and emotionally.  It's so easy, when we are feeling down or upset to either not eat or just eat junk food.  We lose our appetite and don't feel like eating, you do not feel hunger.  Or you just want food which is minimal effort and minimal effort generally means quick and unhealthy with a sugar fix.  For some people, desperately alone and grieving, the loss of someone close to them, they find solace in alcohol, sometimes to excess.  My journey to self care after my mother's departure was to continue to eat healthy, well rounded meals at regular meal times.  To be honest, sometimes I didn't feel like cooking, especially for one, so I made sure to have lots of pre-cooked meals stored in the freezer so that I would have no excuse or need to thing about cooking.  I still snacked on the odd chocolate bar or packet of crisps but not to excess.  The key is a well managed diet. 

I find even now, there are times when my thoughts will just get carried away.  Sometimes, they are happy thoughts, memories of my mother and I, but inevitably, there were times when cancer, chemotherapy, medication and side effects, took its toll and it's hard to not think about the bad aswell as the good.  For those days or times, I get moving.  I decided to leave the house, take a walk, concentrate on something other than those thoughts.  Clearing the mind, seeing life  that continues to move around you and just the simple act of moving forward really helped those thoughts from spiraling out of control.  It does not have to be a 2 mile run or a yoga course but a simple walk, to the park, in a wood, to a local shop, changing the environment around you will reset those thoughts.

I found verbalising those thoughts, spinning round and round in my head, very helpful.  Once the feelings escaped through my mouth, so too did the thoughts.  It's important to share how you are feeling with others and it will reassure those who close to you, that they know how you are feeling.  People around you will worry about you and will want to know how you are getting along and to help you in anyway that you can.  Remember though, that everyone is different, the same person can be different at different periods of their lives.  I remember when my Father died sometime ago, that I did not want to talk about it at all until approximately a year, the anniversary of his death stirred up some emotions which I thought I had buried and it was only then, a year after, that I felt comfortable enough to talk about him again.  So talking and timing go hand in hand.
If you don't have or don't want to speak to family or friends and think that it would be easier to speak to a stranger or a professional then there are many organisations' that provide such services.  Start with your GP, they will be able to offer you some advice on who to speak to.  To be honest, I never would have thought of this as an option, however, soon after my mother died, my GP phoned me after the surgery had received the news via the hospital.  Our GP surgery are familiar with us because it is a small surgery and the extensive treatment my mum received last year for her cancer meant the surgery played a huge part in her aftercare, providing support, advice and valuable resources to make her feel comfortable and me supported.  So a call from the surgery after they had been notified of her death was not alien but the invitation for me to go and see them should I need to speak to someone was not an avenue that I would have thought available.
Cruse Bereavement Care was also recommended to me as a place where you can find local bereavement support.  It's an organisation that recognises bereavement as a serious and big thing for someone to adjust to and sign posts you to get help.
Take advantage of these services as bereavement is a condition which should not be taken lightly and can be just as destructive as a mental illness should it not be treated properly. 

Pamper days
Self care is about spoiling yourself.  Taking time to relax and do something that you enjoy.  It does not have to be something elaborate and expensive such as a spa day and does not have to require you leaving the house even.  A pamper day can be a few hours taking a nice, hot relaxing bubble bath with lovely bath bombs.  Or a nice trip out for a meal or a walk or just some time to yourself.  Pamper days are about days spoiling yourself and doing things that you enjoy, just because you can!

This is probably the hardest thing to do but also the thing that will bring most benefit to your journey of recovery.  Bereavement can happen for any number of reasons, to any age and any circumstance.  It happens to everyone, just as we live and breathe, we must also all pass away from this earth.  And yet, we still question and struggle to come to terms when it really does happen to someone close to us.  Acceptance, coming to terms and finding peace in a loved one's departure is the greatest gift of all.

Unfortunately, there is no answer to grief.  There is no medicine which you can take to make it go away.  The only medicine that I have found which comes closest to healing is time.  It does take time.  When my mum was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer, her death was of course, something that I had always imagined and something we had regularly discussed.  And thinking about it, was something that terrified me.  But now that I am here and it has become a reality, I can say that things are not easy, but they are also not as hard as I imagined.  In short, I am stronger than I realised.  And this strength, helps me over time.



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