Some days the best I can hope for is to survive today. My heart aches for what used to be and the painful experiences that I wish didn't have to happen. Resentment that it did happen. Despair in not knowing how to navigate and feel safe in a new normal. At times the grief and confusion are so overwhelming I can think of nothing else and would give anything to get away from myself to avoid being suffocated by my own story. My heart and my spirit are broken and I feel it in my bones and the aching pull in my chest.
How do you remedy a broken heart? In my experience, grief can be an overwhelming, omnipresent power that creates distress and buries itself deep into the body, mind and soul. It's lingering affect results in psychological suffering and deteriorating physical health. Shame and unpredictable emotional and physical stability keeps me isolated from family and friends. Why can't I just cry, accept and move forward??
While surviving traumatic experiences including significant loss can manifest differently for each of us, there are a few tools I've learned that are helping me through this process:
Understand there may be seemingly impossible days. Your body may be screaming out in pain and you can't imagine how you will make it through today let alone the next minute. Have a plan including someone you can call or something you can do to get out of your own head. This is temporary; it will pass.
Keep a routine including responsibilities to others. Ever wonder why having a pet is known to help people with depression? Letting yourself down is one thing but letting others down is harder to do. You may kick and spit and swear the whole way there but you'll also most likely shower, brush your teeth, get dressed in clean clothes and interact with other human beings in a purposeful way.
Stay away from social media. I often feel incredibly invalidated by other people's overwhelming success stories. It actually causes me to isolate further. "Other people can survive trauma and be happy, so what's wrong with me?" is a thought I often have. Or I feel tempted to share my personal experience to justify why I feel so awful when in truth, I have nothing to justify and my story is not anyone's business. Honor your feelings and your experience by not comparing yours to others.
Commit to a self-care regimen. I know...you could care less. Honestly, I've been wearing the same pants for three days. Discern what is critical to your health and well-being and commit to not letting it slip. Trust me this makes a difference on how you will feel. What you eat matters. Even if you have to employ the help of a friend, online shopping service (I've been using Hello Fresh), and make the effort to get in a healthful diet and drink plenty of water and warm, soothing teas. Allow yourself the space to rest and recover (yoga is a wonderful tool for facilitating healing and activating our rest and digest system).
Seek professional guidance and/or a support group. Healing takes time to process and release. This can be difficult, and for some like me, impossible to do in isolation. There are many grief counselors, coaches and support groups easily found on the web. You may know some friends who have struggled through a similar experience. Bottom line, build a small network and know you are not alone and you will survive this too.
Jill Byron is a certified holistic health coach and registered yoga teacher. Learn more at SimpleHeartHealth.com.