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Loss and Self Care

All loss is incredibly significant.

Whether it’s the loss we experience from the death of someone we love, or the loss of a job, a relationship, our health we feel the significance and sometimes the weight of those. In our ‘stiff upper lip’ way, we often belittle the loss we suffer, comparing our losses to those that others are going through, beating ourselves up with the words of our ‘inner critic’ loudly telling us that we’ve nothing to be complaining about! Even if we manage to comply with the suggestions of the inner critic, there is likely to be a moment (or many moments in time) where we feel the absence of what or who was once there.

In the aftermath of the grief which results from significant loss, we often feel that sense of emptiness or of a ‘gaping hole’. It’s hard, at times to know what to do with the emptiness because, often, others around haven’t even noticed it’s there or, sometimes worse, encourage you to revel in the new found space, time and opportunity. Those suggestions can result in us screaming inside and experiencing the pain of the loss all over again. In reality,
 the space simply reinforces the painful truth that that which was familiar, valuable or important to you is no longer there. Sometimes that feels like there continues to be multiple small ‘deaths’ or losses every time the emptiness is encountered. That can lead us to dread being in certain situations or going to certain places because there the loss feels so real.

So, how do you navigate the gaping hole left by the absence of someone or something?

Perhaps the space is the invitation to self care. Maybe, as we navigate the gaping hole that we feel loss has left us with, we can learn how to look after ourselves. Self care is much more than a hot bath and an early night – self care is about caring for our whole self: body, mind and spirit. At times in our lives, we need to be very intentional about caring for our body while at other times, it’s our mind or spirit that we focus on. Self care can look as different as there are different people! The trouble is that, for most of us, we’ve spent years running around taking care of other people and. somewhere along the way, have forgotten what it even feels like to care for ourselves.

 Perhaps self care for you is about reconnection with those things or people which have been ignored because you didn’t have space or capacity for them. Perhaps in the space you now find you have, you simply time to be still, not to rush to fill it but to see it as a gift of time where you can process what’s really important. We often fear empty space because it encourages us to stop and stopping is uncomfortable because in the stillness and silence of the space we have to hear our own inner struggles. Often we have pushed down or ignored struggles and conflicts within ourselves but when the activity ceases then there is sometimes a great well of stuff which we’ve been putting off engaging with. How might it be, in this season, to learn to sit compassionately with yourself? How would it feel to start to learn to understand those parts of ourselves who have been keeping everything going for us for such a long time?

Sitting with ourselves, learning to ‘be there for me’ takes practice if we are going to do it well. What does that look like for you today?