Blog post: Grief, everyone suffers differently

Having recently lost a loved one, I felt it was fitting to write about grief. It’s such a taboo subject; no one really knows how to deal with it, or how to support those suffering with it.  The only thing you want to do for a friend or family member who is suffering, is take the pain away, however, that is generally completely unachievable.

Be it death, a relationship break-up or even moving countries or cities, loss is a very difficult emotion to deal with, and it takes over the body in all senses.

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.” Wikipedia

This definition of Grief is perfect, all responses affected are displaced and one never quite knows how it will affect them until it does. You cannot prepare for it, you may think you can, but when it really hits, there was is no knowing how it is going to affect you.

Yes, there are the official stages of grief that one reads about, and hopes they are ticking off, just so that they will pop out the other end and lose the pain they are suffering from...however, it seems a majority of the time there is no order to this sequence and one can be stuck in a certain 'phase' for a VERY long time.

Initially, I just wanted to be in my loved ones house, with her clothes and furniture around me, I wanted to be with others who she had loved, and who loved her like I did. Being around them made me feel more ‘normal’ for having this heartache. I must also add I cried my eyes out, constantly being hit with waves of sadness, I had no idea one could cry so many tears, or how hard it could hurt.

Then I became very withdrawn, a little lost soul, struggling to eat or even use my social skills, I was quite happy to hide away in my home. Cleaning and having a good clear out of un-used and un-wanted items, it seemed like the best thing to be doing.  Keeping busy, and keeping away from depressing my friends. I didn't manage to find that place of 'control and cleansing' that one normally finds after a big cull. I just felt more confused and bewildered as to what was the actual point of life.

Next came anger, I became so frustrated and angry at the world, at friends, at other family members, why weren’t they hurting like I was, why would the world do something so nasty.

Then I lost all my motivation, which scared me immensely. Being a generally optimistic, motivated person I suddenly had no desire to do anything, I didn’t want to exercise, I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t care if the house was clean, if the children were clean, I only knew I needed to feed them and keep hugging them.

When the questions come in hard and fast from a 3 and 6 year old, it is really difficult to contain yourself when trying to answer in a kind civil manner. I tried to do it as I could, then I decided to stop being so ‘western’ and just let them know what was going on for me. I explained how sad I was, and how crying just bubbled up inside me and how I had no control over it, but that I was crying because it made me feel better sometimes, not because I was in pain. This seemed to help my children, and stopped them from worrying about me so much. The 6 year old almost made it a joke from time to time, saying “Mum, your crying again, you goose”.

I don't think I ate a full days recommended amount of food over this time. I couldn't stomach it and my body just didn't seem to want it. So completely predictably next up on my list of grief moments came illness. My throat ached, my muscles ached, my eyes burned and my fever caught up with me. I found myself bed ridden, exhausted, frustrated, angry and un-motivated. Wow, what a winning combination that was!

Through my health coaching training, I knew I needed to start taking much better care of myself. I hadn’t been eating properly at all, I had lost weight and muscle tone and obviously lost all of my immunity. I was stressed to no end, trying to organize everything for funerals and packing up precious, sentimental and day to day furniture and equipment. I was physically, emotionally, mentally and just ‘bodily’ drained. 

I started by telling myself that my loved one would not have wanted this to fall upon me at all, that I was respected and loved because of who I was, and that I needed to start walking in those shoes again.

I then decided to make myself a small wheatgrass smoothie – I figured it was easier to sip on something, that try to chew. I added banana into the mix and before I knew it my mouth stomach had grabbed every last morsel of the smoothie available to it. I felt my headache immediately dissipate and suddenly I found a bit of energy to just think about what I might organize the next day.

I made it out of bed and spent time playing with my children, I then continued over the next few days to nourish myself accordingly. Eating real food; vegetables, fruit, whole grains, water and supplementing with Maca powder – to help with the hormonal dismorphia I was suffering from, I added wheat-grass to drinks, to up my antioxidant in take and try to clear the horrible ‘blues’ toxins out of my body. Being such a holistic geek, I knew that everything I fed my body, be it primary foods (emotions, career, relationships, religion, relaxation etc) or secondary foods (actual edible food and drink) was all being digested. I needed to rid myself of the sadness and ‘get on with it’ as I would have been told by my lost one.

Slowly but surely I have regained my strength, my independence, my brain power, my memory, my enthusiasm for life, my fitness is slowly sorting itself back into condition (I must say, I was very fit prior to all of this horribleness!) My diet is back on track and my supplements (magnesium, krill oil, vitamin C and maca powder) are working wonders again and I just know how important it is to keep in control of my body. To look after myself and to find that balance again.

I guess this might sound like a plug for a health coach, it’s not meant to, it’s just proof that without being held accountable for my actions and really struggling through the loss of a family member, I lost all sense of what was important to keep myself on top. Sure I needed to go through each step, but at the same time I think I needed a health coach or someone helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel, and purely working to pull out of my head what I already knew; to keep functioning at my best I needed to be looking after myself and balancing my life.

Life is just so short. It's of the upmost importance to grieve for a loss, it’s more important than anything, but if I could help in anyway at all, I would just remind all of you ‘Square One-ers’ to own your life at the same time, and to keep feeding your body what it needs, the last thing you want is to finally be heading out the other end and find yourself sick or worse for even longer.

Regardless of your loss, or grief. Please please look after yourself. Hang in there people as life sure is testing. Just remember it’s also your life, and you deserve health.

Written by Jessica Eastwood