Se habla español


Practice Self-Care While Grieving

Home » Practice Self-Care While Grieving
July 28, 2020
Edward Smith

Bereavement: Remember to Take Care of Yourself

The grieving process after the loss of a loved one can be brutal.  It is also unpredictable in terms of intensity and duration.  When that loss is unexpected, such as in the case of a fatal automobile crash, the grief can be particularly profound as you work to make sense of the sudden hole in your life for which you were not prepared.

Many grief counselors suggest adopting or continuing a pattern of healthy eating and moderate exercise for those who have experienced a loss. Physical activity in particular can help reduce the effects of stress and depression on the body and also help you sleep better.

Redefine Exercise While Grieving

For those who followed a hardcore fitness routine prior to the loss, it may make more sense to ease off a bit during the period of acute grief.  Strenuous exercise can actually lower immunity, and coupled with bereavement, you may wind up sick and tired in addition to sad.  Because you are suffering psychologically and physiologically with intense grief, temporarily redefining exercise to simply mean “movement” may have overall benefits.  

Walking outside in the fresh air and sunlight can be particularly helpful when dealing with grief.  Other gentle forms of exercise include tai chi, pilates, or yoga.  Exercising outside with a close friend or family member can provide an added social benefit.

It is well known that exercise stimulates endorphins, which, according to WebMD, are chemicals that interact with receptors within your brain to reduce the perception of pain. Endorphins also reduce stress and elicit a positive feeling throughout the body, which is somewhat similar to the effect of morphine.

The tendency of your mind to wander and focus on negative thoughts is slowed down by the effects of exercise.  Essentially, similar to meditation, exercise can calm a racing mind.  Light to moderate activity helps the body maintain balance while it is struggling through the trauma of loss.

Below is a YouTube video featuring a yoga routine specifically designed for those experiencing grief.

Ease Grief with Nutrition 

Food is a coping mechanism for some.  Others find it extremely difficult to eat during the grieving process.  Whether you feel better while eating plates of food high in carbs, or you are struggling to choke down your meals, either is understandable in the short term.  In the first week or two after the loss, go especially easy on yourself.  After that acute phase, aim to make reasonably healthy choices more often than not.  Similar to regular exercise, eating well is another way you can practice self-care during one of the most difficult times of your life.  

Here are some nutrition tips to keep balance during the grieving process:

  • Limit coffee to one standard 8-10 ounce cup and consume it prior to 10 a.m. 
  • Limited alcohol to no more than one serving per day.  A single serving of wine, for example, is five ounces.
  • Increase your protein intake.
  • Increase your intake of water.  The crying that comes with grief can dehydrate the body.  Be aware that alcohol and caffeine also contribute to dehydration.
  • Choose foods that boost immunity, such as berries, dark leafy greens, and wild-caught fish.
  • Consider drinking a nutritional supplement such as Boost if you are having trouble eating.
  • Sip on ginger or chamomile tea before bed.  Warm liquids are comforting and calming.

Be Kind to Yourself

The loss of a beloved family member or a close friend is one of the most difficult experiences we humans must endure.  Writer Glennon Doyle likens grief to a receipt that proves we once loved.  Intense heartbreak can take a significant toll on your body. Be kind to yourself as you journey through the grieving process.  Practice self-care and recognize that your grief is not on a strict timeline.  In the days following the loss, much of your energy will be consumed by just performing everyday activities of daily living. As more time passes, you will likely still be struck by periods of intense grief, sometimes out of nowhere, but trust that good days will return.  Soon you will be able to remember the good times you shared with your lost loved one with tears in your eyes and a smile on your face. 

East Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, an East Sacramento Wrongful Death Attorney.  Losing a loved one in an accident is an unimaginable tragedy.  If your family has suffered such a loss and is seeking compassionate, free, and friendly advice, reach out to my law firm at (916) 921-6400.  If you are outside of the Sacramento area, call toll-free at (800) 404-5400.  I have assisted Sacramento families with wrongful death claims for more than 38 years.

Client reviews can be viewed on Google, Avvo, and Yelp.  A sampling of some of our successful case conclusions is posted here: Verdicts and Settlements.


mm [cs 831] bw