Taking Care of Yourself

Okay, so this entry is probably more so written for bereaved mothers. I think as a woman, you want to give, give, give. So when someone says, “Go take care of you,” we may have a hard time doing just that. Let alone, trying to understand what we would even do. After we lost Emily, my husband did not have a hard time taking care of himself. He said that week leading up to her funeral, “I need to run.” Soon after that, he said he needed to do some projects. Sometimes I think guys are better at knowing and acting on what they need.

I remember my counselor who I continue to see to this day, saying last year, “And what gift has Emily given you?” I paused for a few seconds, and then listed the many different ways she had changed our lives. And then I said, “She made me realize that I need to take better care of myself. Set aside ‘me time’.”

So, what did that entail? At first I did not know. But slowly, and even this time around with losing Michael, I am figuring it out. It will look different for everyone, but if you start to soul search, I think you’ll see what you need. 

A few years ago, I picked up a hobby called gardening. I used to be terrible about growing a plant, a flower. You name it. It was a disaster. But after we had Ryan, I wanted to have some time to myself. So, I redid our front flower bed, and it felt so good to learn something new. Something that was intimidating beforehand. I am proud to say, those flowers are doing quite well now. Some parts of that flower bed are shade, while others are full sun. I had to see how tall certain ones would end up, and how all of them should be placed. And then the fun part, color. What kind of a “feel” did I want it to have? All of the plants and flowers had different needs. Just as when we are grieving we all have different needs. And we all go about it differently.

After losing Emily, I realized that I did not exercise enough. I started yoga for a little while. It hasn’t stuck, but I tried it. I also started walking on our treadmill and lifting weights. And while doing that, I watched HGTV. My time away. That has stuck. Because as I am trying to improve my well-being, I am also learning how to decorate. 

This time around with losing Michael, I started sewing. And knitting. Two of my things on my bucket list. Now those two things were very intimidating to me. I would find every excuse not to do them. And then finally I said, “That’s it. If others can do this, I can too.” And I did.

Not only hobbies and exercise, but talking to others. A support network. I have seen an individual counselor and a spiritual counselor now for over a year. I see both of them separately, twice a month. That is a lot of scheduling. But I know that after I spend one hour with each of them, that is two hours a month, I feel so much better. Grieving is hard work. And it helps to have others there to guide you through the process. It is new territory that can be overbearing if you try to go at it alone.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could even be just going and getting your nails done. Or if you can’t do that, setting aside time at home to do your own nails. The important thing is, taking care of you. Even getting a book out at the library. A book that you have always wanted to read, but just couldn’t find time to do. Take care of yourself. At first it may be hard to do that. How can I do something positive? For me? When I just lost a baby? Or babies? It may be uncomfortable at first. But just do what you can do. A little bit at a time can even help. And try to remember to be patient with yourself and where you are. My counselor says often when we are talking about the grieving process and the emotions that go with it, “Where you are, is where you are supposed to be.” So if it takes a while to figure out what you need, that is okay. Just try to be patient and not be so hard on yourself. What you need, you’ll figure out soon enough.