I find the usual recommendations for grief a little silly, because my experience was that grief was the boss of me and decisions to do any particular thing never went anywhere. That said, yes, all forms of self-care are a good idea: yoga, meditation, exercise, hygge, journaling, being with your loves, being with animals, going outside. Sure. Do what you can manage.
Here is my realistic list of what you can do about grief:
- You don’t have to do anything. If you are healthy, grief will pass. Sleep. Eat what your body wants and sleep some more. Notice when you start to feel energized again.
- Give yourself permission to go small. For two years, I was a tiny person, with nothing left over to give to friends, no interest in anything abstract, no capacity to follow any plot beyond my own. It is OK to be that way for a while, and for healthy people, grief will pass.
- Give yourself permission to be OK sometimes. Grief comes in waves; between the waves you may feel good. That is also natural and fine. So is black humor. Do not waste energy on guilt for feeling good or for laughing at bleakness.
- If you weren’t healthy going into grief, jesus fuck go get help. This is time for therapy. Grief and its depression will find all of the unhealed places and re-open old hurts. Addicts are at very high risk of relapse during grief.
- Of the standard recommendations, I got the most from going outside and from getting a dog. I found myself compulsively driven to plant and garden, but I don’t know if that’s a widespread grief response.
- As an overarching guide, I found Ro Randall’s presentation of the tasks of grief much better than the mainstream concept of the stages of grief.
After your grief, this situation will still be astonishingly bad and we will still have to respond. I don’t mean to suggest anything different. But right now, grief is an additional burden, its own thing. Respect it; one way or another, grief will take its full toll. Also know that the part that is grief will pass. It just does.