Recently I read a blog post by my favorite woman in the grief community. She is brilliant, amazing, and incredible and her message is spot on for grief recovery. But, when I read her recent blog it made me sad to learn that she is slowly killing herself and she has no idea it’s her grief that’s poisoning her.
Her posts are always beautifully written, and this one openly shared her thoughts on how aging had affected her health and she listed a couple of her most urgent ailments. My heart sunk. For one thing she is younger than me and I’m nowhere near ready to admit that I’m old!!!
Grief vs Aging
What really hit me hard was that the conditions she described were ailments of a lack of self-care – not age. How do I know? Well, after 20+ years in the health & wellness industry and teaching a college level course on Exercise and the Older Adult… I’m pretty well versed on what happens to our bodies when we age and how our health changes as a result. Sadly, her conditions are not aging; they are conditions that would benefit from improved health & wellness choices.
Unlike aging , self care (self love) is 100% in our control!
Grief & Health Problems
Grief makes you feel like you are aging faster than you did before grief struck . It makes you feel like you’ve run over by a truck-daily! Your body aches like you have the flu. You can’t eat or you eat too much. You can’t sleep or you sleep too much. Your thyroid shuts down. You gain weight or lose it. You are more susceptible to colds, your immune function is weak. In short you have no zest for life…
A study involving women who had beenwidowed and was published in ‘Pyschiatric Research’ in 1994 stated, “This study suggests a relationship between impaired immune function and depression in women experiencing the stress of bereavement.”
Another study from 2004 published in the Psychological Bulletin concludes “Chronic stressors (such as loss) were associated with suppression of both cellular and hormonal measures”.
Grief, bereavement, loss all require that we increase and/or improve the level of self care we give ourselves.
If we don’t take care of our health we risk, not just the continued grief for the person we’ve lost, but the subsequent grief of loss of health and quality of life.
Focus On What You Can Control
Grief is a diagnoses that require you to care for your health in the same way you would a disease. It is life-long, unpredictable, and chronic…. But you have 100% control over how it manifests itself in your health.
Not taking care of yourself after loss is akin to being a diabetic and eating lunch at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory every day.
For almost two years after Brandon died I felt like I had an auto-immune disorder. I was fatigued, achy, and forgetful, I gained weight, my sleep was horrible… and so was my self-care. Once I started to focus on my food, sleep and exercise things began to turn around.
Healthy Grief Recovery is not about weight loss, before & after pictures or what you look like on the outside. It’s about loving yourself from the inside out and repairing your broken heart the same way I cared for my patients when I worked in Cardiac Rehab… with compassion and changes in lifestyle.
As for the incredible woman who posted about how aging was tough – I am sending her lots of big love and good juju. I suspect she has poured so much of her heart & soul into healing others that she has forgotten about healing herself.
Her message is so needed in the world I hope she puts her health first and continuing her work in this field. I would dearly miss her wisdom and insight.
If you need some inspiration to get started check out my post on the 5 Best Yoga Poses for Grief
No it’s your turn. Where can you turn up the self-care? What could you do today that would improve your health and how your manage your grief? Tell me in the comments below!