After we have lost a person in our own household, grief lives in every nook and cranny. Their favorite spot on the couch, the bathroom toiletries and even in the refrigerator with so many leftovers.
Its easy to stop taking care of yourself when your world is overrun with grief, to stop cooking healthy food so you don't have to see how much is left when the person you love is no longer there to eat too. Looking in the refrigerator and seeing the Tupperware full of leftovers can reduce you to tears when all you wanted was a late night snack.
We know we have to care for ourselves. We are told to exhaustion that we need to feed ourselves, we are just never told how to manage that without the sharp edges of grief cutting deeply.
In the early days of loss, people bring you food, so many casseroles and covered dishes. One day, however, you will have to start to care for yourself and whomever is left in the house. We all know eventually the sharp edges of grief start to round and you can bear the injuries a little easier. In the beginning though, protect yourself. Your life is different now and trying to do things the same is not possible and only will cause you pain. Cook a half recipe, or a third, the image for this post is a chart to cut a recipe down to size.
You will find that the pain of doing things differently is more rounded than the pain of trying to live a life that has been irrevocably altered. You will still find sharp edges where you didn't expect it, a cut to your soul that will bring you to your knees when you thought things were righting themselves, but acknowledging how different your life is now will help you in the beginning. Avoid cooking their favorite dishes and their favorite movies.
Eventually, it starts to feel like you have created too much space between you and the one you have lost and you will want to revisit those old wounds. This is a good time to cook their favorite foods and listen to their favorite music. Eventually, you will find comfort in the old pain, but, in the beginning, find ways to treat yourself tenderly.
What have you changed after a loss?
My name is Abby, my life has been touched many times by loss and grief. This life has led me to helping others navigate their own grief. I have become a INELDA trained End Of Life Doula and a hospice volunteer. I am not a professional counselor or psychologist and all advice given should be treated as advice from a friend.