image from here.
5. Don’t take the loss out on yourself.
Ah, this is the worst. I know this is so hard to hear right now. This is the one where I say “do as i say and not as I do.”
After one loss, I had a fierce and violent re-emergence of anorexia that I thought had been conquered years before. The lack of food left me not only weak physically, but isolated emotionally from people who could help me. Because I was so whittled down and transparent, pain could blow right on in.
Taking the loss out on yourself makes it a double loss. Be on your own team and decide to survive. Be aware of…
- re-surfacing of old addictions
- increased alcohol/drug use
- dangerous over- or under-eating
- refusal to leave home or be with people
- extreme sleep patterns
- obsessive guilt and thoughts of “If only I had/hadn’t done____” (No matter WHAT you’ve done. For reals.)
- desperate need of a “why”
- constant re-living of the loss
- symptoms of PTSD, OCD, paranoia, delusion, depression or other mental health issues
- dedicating yourself to your loss instead of your recovery
These can become serious quickly, and are hard to monitor for yourself. Ask for help.
6. Read about it.
Loss often feels like uncharted territory, but humans have been thinking about it and experiencing it as long as we’ve been humans. It can help to relate to others through their words.
There are many good books about loss in the world, but a most amazing one, recommended to me by the Amazing Soo-jin Yoon is called How to Survive the Loss of a Love. A collection of poems, short prose, and straightforward, kind advice, this book is a resource for many kinds of loss, not just the breakup of an affair.
In the fiction world, I like A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. A man looses his wife after childbirth and then gets saddled with becoming (sort of) a Grim Reaper’s administrative assistant. Makes life seem so sweet, and so sad, and so worth it.
7. Fortify your routine with new resources.
Though you probably feel like it, this may not be the best time to change careers, move to Austin, or get a tattoo. (Don’t let me stop you! Just saying, those things are much more powerful choices when made from a position of strength, ‘kay? <3) You have been living a life before your loss, and I am going to assume that there are great chunks of it you built for yourself and are propelling you on a path you are proud of.*
So go to your job. Eat three meals a day. Go to your gym, or the yoga studio, or take your daily walk with the dog. This can become great comfort if you are willing to take it easy on yourself.
However, you are NOT going back to your “old life.” This is a new world, a post-loss world. Fortify your routine with some gifts to yourself:
- Medication: I am a huge proponent of medication. It’s not “cheating.” It’s chemistry. Give yourself a leg up. No brainer.
- Therapy: going into a room with someone sworn to secrecy and crying your eyes out is awesome.
- New movement of some kind, ANY kind. Taking a walk, a stretch, Tai Chi, a new kind of exercise class or club, go dancing, take a new yoga class…anything. Experience your body in a new way.
- A new kind of quiet time: my meditation practice right now is lying on the floor with my eyes covered listening to the entirety Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.“ All eleven minutes of it.
- Touch Therapy: massage, reiki, volunteering with animals or babies. Get touched. A lot.
*If you are thinking, “Fuck That, I hate my life and everything in it. My loss re-defines my entire life,” TOTALLY FINE. You may very well want a complete directional change. BUT DON’T START NOW. Treat yourself as someone who just got hit by a truck. Because you have. It’s not about clear vision or perspective. It’s about taking on just one huge challenge at a time.