1/26/23

too much too soon; part 2

In Part 1, we talked about the period following your spouse/partner’s funeral, when all the attention from well-meaning friends and family can start to feel overwhelming.

When that occurs, try to remember the following tips:

Pace yourself. People will understand that under the circumstances, you need to gage your capabilities on a day-to-day basis.

If you feel the need for quiet or solitude, it’s okay to say so. Let others know you appreciate their company but recent events have left you depleted and you need to take time to retreat.

If others invite you out for a meal or other social occasion, you may be reluctant to decline due to fear of losing more connections in your life. People will understand if you explain that you aren’t sure from one day to the next how you’ll be feeling and will have to let them know closer to the event.

Keep in mind that during this difficult period, your needs and comfort are important! For now, it’s okay to make them your top priority.

Also remember it’s important to have others in your life and not to isolate yourself.

1/23/23

too much too soon; part 1




In the initial weeks following your spouse/partner’s death, you may find yourself swamped by well-meaning family, friends and others anxious to show their caring and support. Phone calls, e-mails and visits can provide a welcome cushion from the shock and pain of your loss.

There may be times however, when all the attention becomes overwhelming.

Keep in mind that others tend to feel helpless when a death occurs. The calls, visits and invitations help them feel less so. You might suggest they help with small chores such as marketing or helping sort paperwork.

Your comfort level, however, is what’s most important, however, so help others to really “be there” for you by gently setting some limits.

Look for tips on how to set limits with others in our next post.

1/19/23

when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 2



Sleeping

In our last post, we looked at ways to cope with the appetite loss that’s a common symptom of grief.

Here we revisit our best advice on getting through those nights when sleep is a problem.


Sleeping Solo

Some people find it difficult adjusting to sleeping alone after his or her partner has died.

It’s often uncomfortable to change your position in the bed after having shared it with a partner. For some, moving into a bedmate’s “space” may feel comforting while for others it’s a painful acknowledgment that a loved one is no longer there.

Whether you feel most comfortable sleeping on your usual side of the bed or moving to your late partner’s side, here are some tips for helping you adjust to sleeping alone:

1) Try hugging a pillow to help you doze off.

2) You may want to sleep with an article of clothing that carries your partner’s familiar scent.

3) If you’re uncomfortable moving from your customary position, “try out” shifting yourself gradually toward the center of the bed.

4) If you initially find it comforting to have your young child/children sleep with you, try to ease them back into their own beds as soon as possible. While it may be reassuring to you and your child in the short term, you don’t want to burden children with the responsibility of “taking care” of you.

5) Sharing the bed with your pets, however, is a better way to feel less alone.

Adjusting to sleeping by yourself is a very personal process. There is no right or wrong about this, so take your time and move (or sleep) at your own pace.


How to Ease Into Those ZZZs; Part 1

Since your spouse/partner’s death, do you feel exhausted during the day because when you try sleep at night, you:

a) Toss and turn all night, unable shut down your thoughts?

b) Fall asleep, only to wake up a few hours later, unable to get back to sleep?

With all the mental and physical overload caused by your spouse/partner’s death, it’s no wonder your normal sleep habits have been affected.

If so, keep in mind that some disturbances in your normal sleep pattern should be expected. With all the changes and stresses you’re dealing with, it’s no wonder you can’t rest.

With time, these typical symptoms of grief will subside.

In the meantime, remind yourself that everything seems worse at night. Once morning arrives, the problem or memory that kept you tossing will probably seem more manageable.


How to Ease Into Those ZZZs; Part 2

Now for the 7 most useful tips on dealing with that long stretch before your alarm goes off.

1) Use your bed for sleep only. If you have get up, go into another room to read or watch something boring on TV. Avoid the mental stimulation of using a computer.

2) Don’t look at the clock. Noticing how long it’s taking you to fall asleep can become another pressure.

3) If you’re too tense to fall asleep, get up and perform some repetitive housework, like vacuuming...(read more)

1/16/23

when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 1



Eating

Research has shown that you’re more vulnerable to physical problems following the death of a spouse/partner. This doesn’t mean that you will get sick, only that it’s important to take care of your health during this stressful period.

The following posts offer some practical suggestions for coping with the diminished appetite that can accompany grief and mourning.

Losing Your Appetite

Feel like nothing will ever taste good again?

Wish people would stop nagging you to eat when you just don’t feel hungry?

If your spouse/partner has recently died, you probably haven’t felt much like eating. It’s not uncommon to feel a loss of appetite in the first month or so after a death, when your body as well as your mind is in a state of shock. Keep in mind that your appetite should slowly return with time. In any case…(read more).

Online Help

We came across a site for adult children who have lost a parent. In a useful post they recommend offering support by arranging to have prepared meals delivered to a widowed parent.

There are online sites that provide special diets, vegetarian and/or gourmet cooking.

While this is a great way for others to “do something”, it can also be a good way to take care of yourself. Especially at those times when you don’t feel up to shopping and/or fixing something to eat.

Or depending on family or neighbors to do it for you. In any case, always make sure your doctor knows about your recent loss and any prolonged problems you have with your appetite.

There are also some regional supermarket chains that offer online selections and home delivery. 
Although it can get costly, occasionally ordering meals or groceries online can provide a healthy alternative on days when you’d just rather not bother yourself or others.

In our next post, we’ll revisit some useful posts that deal with sleep disturbances affected by your loss.

1/12/23

5 simple resolutions for a new year

Give yourself a big pat on the back!

You’ve just survived the holidays, one of the toughest times for anyone grieving a loss. Now you’re probably looking ahead and wondering how you’ll ever make it through the next twelve months.

Here are five suggestions to help gently ease you along the bumpy road of bereavement:

1. Remember to keep any resolutions realistic. You’re not your usual self while you’re grieving, so be gentle with yourself.

2. Set at least one small, “bite-size” goal every day, such as tackling a couple of tasks. Be sure to reward yourself after each effort.

3. Think back to the person you were before you married. Can you remember any hobbies or interests that you might have set aside due to family responsibilities? Consider participating in those former activities once again. Local adult schools or community groups offer many opportunities to freshen up your skills.

4. Reach out to others more often. Make a new friend. While widowed groups offer the chance to meet others who can relate to what you’re going through, there are opportunities in your neighborhood such as clubs and organizations that can also be great sources for meeting people who may share other interests with you.

5. Consider all the self-imposed barriers you’ve put up over the years about what you can and can’t do. Now is the time to confront those old beliefs about yourself. Slowly begin to tackle a few of the things your spouse used to handle, such as minor household repairs or cooking.


If you can put even one of the above resolutions into action, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of greater self-confidence with which to face the new year.