Thursday, June 16, 2016

Grieving After Orlando: 5 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself

If you're like most of us, you're reeling from the aftermath of last weekend's shooting in Orlando. Maybe you're feeling low, or you've noticed yourself snapping at loved ones. Perhaps you can't quite stay focused on your work.

All of this is normal in the face of loss. Even if you haven't personally lost a friend or family member, chances are that the outpouring of grief from the Orlando massacre has rekindled your own. That's one of the functions of public grief--it serves as a container for all of us to process our grief.

But what if you're not grieving any recent losses? Maybe you're still carrying around leftover fragments from a death long ago. Or perhaps you find yourself missing your ex-husband. Or a beloved friend or pet.

Maybe you can't even pinpoint what you're missing. You just feel it. The loss of innocence, the simple life you once enjoyed--something you'd once taken for granted.

Whatever the cause of your grief, please know that you're not alone. Grief brings up old grief, and it's one of the reasons we find ourselves struggling even when a significant event such as the Orlando massacre didn't impact us personally.

Below are 5 tips to take care of yourself during this difficult time.

  1. Give yourself extra time and space. We all need time and space to process our emotions; otherwise, they'll sideline us. Much like a beach ball held under water, our emotions always rise to the surface--often disastrously when we don't acknowledge them.

  2. Give yourself permission. Permission to reschedule non-essential meetings and events, to turn off the news, to say NO to anything that doesn't feed your soul.

  3. Reach out to loved ones. Squeeze in a walk with an old friend, invite your teen out for a movie, show up on your mother's doorstep with an extra hug, set aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with your spouse.

  4. Give yourself extra TLC. Go for a walk. Prepare a nourishing meal. Turn off the news, get outside and breathe some fresh air. Practice compassion for yourself before attempting to bestow it onto others. (For more on this, read Kristin Neff's groundbreaking work on self-compassion.)

  5. Recommit to your personal values. Consider the legacy you'd like to leave behind. Will it be love? Kindness? Recommit to the people and the values that bring joy and meaning to your life.

Inspired by the real-life challenges we all face but rarely discuss, Tanja Pajevic creates books, blogs and workshops to support life's big transitions. The author of 9 Steps to Heal Your Resentment and Reboot Your Marriage, she is currently completing a grief memoir about the transformational aspect of loss. Connect with her here.

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