Put on Your Oxygen Mask First
I received this reply to this question, "what are you doing to help yourself move through your grief?"
“…But just like my mother, I am serving everyone but me. I am helping with dad’s affairs since mom passed. I am overseeing his medical care which includes assisting him after surgery and moving him into a rehab center. I have groceries to get, laundry to do and my house is a mess. I need time for me, but I do not take it. My heart feels like it died with my mother. I am overwhelmed and don’t have time to grieve or take care of myself…”
This women’s response crushed me to the very core. I can see how much she is suffering with the loss of her mother. She has stepped in as the caretaker with out acknowledging her own grief. She is besieged with duties. I could see the despair in her eyes as they darted around the room. I knew she was not mentally with me. Her mind was racing on what she had to do. As we talked further, she told me she was afraid she was going to loose it, have a mental break down and be so sick she would not be able to help her dad. I totally agreed with her. I shared this analogy with her. I know it to be true because I have done it for myself. Think about flying on an airplane. Before takeoff, the flight attendant goes over the safety precautions. Buckle your seat belt. Put your trays up. Bring your seat back upright. Find your emergency exits. Remember where the flotation devices are. They end their safety talk with the oxygen mask. In the event the cabin looses pressure, be sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping anyone around you. Why do they want you to do this? They are not suggesting this to cause you to be selfish, rather it is to help others. When you have oxygen, you can function and assist those around you. This is the same in grief. If you do not have the oxygen mask, or in grief, self-care, then you will most likely get sick, burned out and unable to help anyone, including yourself. I know as a caretaker and mother; I want to help everyone and would be disappointed that I was unable to do what I loved, what I was meant to do, nurture and care for others. What my client really needed was to decide what was important and let other things go so she could take care of herself. She needed to get sleep, she needed to eat and needed to have time to grieve. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve but there are healthy ways. What she was doing was not healthy. I suggested she not worry about the household duties. If need be, hire someone or just let them go. When it came to water, I suggested drinking ½ of her body weight in ounces of water. (130 person would drink 65 ounces of water, 130/2 = 65.) I drink my first 20 ounces of water before 10 am. That way I know I am going to get it all in. As for her nutrition, I recommend she stop eating the processed foods. They cause so much harm in the long run. Porcessed foods are responsible for ups and downs of your mood, energy, and focus. The goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables. I do fairly good, but I also supplement with Juice Plus+ capsules. They are capsules full of dried fruits and veggies. They help me have stable mood, great energy, and improved focus. (I would love to share how they helped me in my loss journey. Reply to this email and we can chat). All of this, nutrition, water and letting go of responsibilities is putting on your oxygen mask. You must do it. If not, your grief will have long term implications on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I know that if I did not follow my own advice, I would not be able to do what I love which is helping people like you in your loss journey.
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Peggy Green is a has experienced the grief of losing many loved ones including two of her children. Walking through grief caused her to seek out ways to heal her own grief and then share those steps with others. Her mission is to bring hope to mothers who are grieving the loss of a child and support to those who feel they can't find hope for the future.
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