My father passed away in August, so I've done an unwanted deep dive into grief.
Grief is like standing on the edge of an extremely high platform, not knowing when someone is going to come up from behind you and push you off and over. It feels similar to what I imagine drowning would, except instead of actually drowning, you flail. You feel a complete loss of control accompanied by pain that's truly indescribable unless you have lived through it yourself. Grief is all-consuming, and it takes so much help to get through the first several weeks.
I've read countless articles and scoured book previews regarding grief, but the majority discuss how to get through grief over the long term. While that's fabulous, let me assure you that most people don't feel like reading during the first couple of months of grieving.
So I wanted to share five absolutely necessary tips with any of you going through your own loss. These come from my having lived through the first couple of months of grief. I'm not just surviving; I'm beginning to feel a true transformation taking place in my spirit. It was initially a longing for my dad back, but now I'm starting to feel peace.
The tips below will help get you to a place of relishing this short and beautiful life. Here are five things I did that helped me get through a period of deep grief.
1. I boosted my immune system.
Grief drowns you physically, mentally and emotionally. It's absolutely crucial that you increase your vitamin C and any immune-boosting supplementation. It's common for people to get physically ill after a loved one passes away. I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection days after my dad died.
I've learned that it's not only beneficial to increase your vitamin supplementation; it's critical. This is a simple step that you can do with the aid of your physician or on your own that will help buoy your body's strength to ward off illness during this time.
2. I learned that mood follows action.
By chance, I watched a video about how ultra-endurance athletes build the mental toughness necessary to make it through difficult times. I was watching mindlessly in bed one weekend afternoon when I heard Rich Roll say, "You have to realize that mood follows action — take the action despite how you feel — take action anyway."
I immediately got up and showered that day and went for a long walk to the lake. And I felt better. Every single day since, "mood follows action" has stayed with me. I promise you that this advice is going to help you get through the first four weeks of grief.
3. I ate my greens.
The first two weeks after my father passed away, I ate absolutely horridly and all of that processed food made me feel even worse than I already felt. I reverted back to my plant based diet and I believe the entire world is attune that eating primarily plant based is alkalizing, healing, nourishing and energizing for the body. For me, eating more greens every day has helped me during my heal from the grief of losing my dad.
4. I spoke kindly to myself and my body.
Be extremely gentle with how you speak to yourself. Speak to yourself as you would a small child who's lost her parent. Nurture yourself with 24 hours of self-care, ranging from proper sleep, curling up in warm blankets and watching a funny movie, getting a massage if you can afford it and allowing yourself just to be. Let the grief flow through you rather than fighting it.
This goes back to the feeling of being hurled into water: Grief is like an undertow, and when you fight an undertow, you drown. When you relax into an undertow — even though that feels completely unnatural and seems to be the opposite reaction you should have — the undertow actually releases you.
5. I set boundaries.
Boundaries are essential during the first couple of months of grieving. Establish what space you need to take for yourself and be clear with loved ones what's best for you. Be direct with what you need. Boundaries are essential because people don't know how to act or what to do after you lose someone you love. Everyone wants to help, but sometimes their aim to help can be overwhelming to you.
I needed a tremendous amount of space from phone calls and outside demands. Thankfully, my friends and family respected my wishes. Whether yours do or not, setting up personal boundaries is respecting and taking care of yourself which is vital.
My prayers go out to any and all of you who are struggling with loss. I can promise you that there's beauty and healing in the struggle. And I want to optimistically add that you will come through this with even greater empathy, compassion and love, not only for others, but also for yourself.