As grieving parents, love and pain are inextricably linked. The love for our children and the pain of their loss haunts us every day for the remainder of our lives. We cannot choose to completely remove the pain or we would lose our love connection too. But is there a way that we can bring some love to the pain to help ease our grieving hearts?
I believe we can bring love to the pain.
The Serenity Prayer comes to mind because it offers some distance from our pain without relinquishing our love.
We can accept our loss – even in its an unfair and bitter reality. We can allow it to become a part of us and not the overwhelming whole that it is early in our grief. This takes time. We can only digest and accept our loss in our own time, in our own individual way. In order to this, we have to choose acceptance and a good measure of self-love.
Through time and practice, we can reframe our grief; we can make it more bearable. This does not mean that we should avoid the painful parts. It means looking at our loss and acknowledging that we cannot bring our child back and then deciding how we will respond to that reality.
Grief takes courage. It takes courage to be in our grief just as it takes courage to step out of it and embrace the life we now have. And through this process, we need to shower ourselves with love.
We love ourselves when we accept ourselves as we are: Perfect in our imperfection, whole even as we are broken, our previous lives shattered. We love ourselves by allowing the slow process of rebuilding our new life and not judging ourselves as we ride the grief rollercoaster. Enjoying the good days, when they come, and trying not to feel guilty. With each up and down we begin anew; we grow, we change, we rebuild.
Grief changes us – how could it not? We may become a whole other person; one who has suffered an unbearable loss and come through the other side. Fighting the change does not make things different. It just uses up precious energy and it can make things harder. Accepting change shows our love for ourselves.
Through our experience, we may discover strength we never knew we had. Our values and beliefs may be permanently altered. Some of us find our purpose in our grief. This can feel so wrong and painful, and we may wish it was different, but it just is. It becomes something that propels us forward.
While we can never truly eliminate the pain, we can use love as a suave to help heal the wound, if not completely, but to dull the pain and the initial ugliness. We can love others experiencing loss, we can give them community and understanding, a safe place to just be.
We must first begin with us. We bring love to the pain when we love ourselves when we take care of ourselves. We honour our love for our children in this as well. They would want the best for us, just as we would for them.
Here are some ideas for bringing love to the pain today:
Be kind and gentle with yourself. Know that you are enough just as you are, even if you’re a grieving mess on the floor (I’ve been there myself). Treat yourself with the kindness as you would your best friend.
Accept yourself as you are right now. You may not have the energy or motivation to do what you used to do and that is perfectly okay. There is no timetable or a set path for your grief. Stop comparing and judging yourself based on what you think others think of you or what you’ve been through. This is your life and you get to live it the way you choose.
Meet your own needs. Do what you feel you need to do to be okay. This may or may not mean visiting the cemetery or acknowledging your child in some way. Maybe you need some quiet time or maybe you need to visit friends. Trust yourself to know what you need to take care of you.
Nourish your body. Giving your body healthy food, rest, exercise, and comfort it needs to the best of your ability.
Respect yourself and set boundaries. Saying no when you don’t want to do something, or you don’t have the energy for, is loving yourself.
Make time for yourself and your grief. Having time for yourself where you can ‘just be’ allows you some breathing room to feel and move through your grief.
Appreciate yourself. This one can be tough, especially when we’re grieving, but it can help shift our thinking and move us through our grief. Remind yourself of one thing that you love about yourself. If that’s too hard, remind yourself of one beautiful memory that makes you feel good. In that memory, you will likely find something to appreciate.
What other ways can you show yourself some love today? Leave a comment below.
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