A loss creates seismic shifts in a life. The structure that supports it falls in on itself, the rhythm of that life is disrupted, a gaping hole opens up underfoot. Things that were easy become difficult, even impossible – eating is no longer appealing, sleep is elusive, simple communicating is overwhelming. Never have the basic tasks of the day required so much effort.
Every loss has its layers, and one of the most disruptive is the loss of the chance to begin the day with comforting routines. Simply waking up in the morning creates the first shock of the day, when the blessed unconsciousness of sleep gives way to the first stab of awareness of the loss. Knowing that life is not the same and never will be again follows. Grief flows in like lava to stop us in our tracks.
In the moments that used to be filled by the familiar – teeth brushing, coffee making, exercising, showering – now we are stuck. There are decisions to be made: How to get out of bed? Where will I get the energy to get dressed? What is the point of getting up anyway? Where will I get the fortitude to live this day? How can I bear this pain?
From its first day, grief invites us to recognize that if everything has changed, then we need to change everything in response. We need to create a new way to do morning, at the very least.
Each morning, to follow the awakening of the grief, we can cobble together a series of actions that accept the new reality but also call upon the old – by establishing a new but still comforting routine that can soothe and get us moving toward the day.
The ingredients will vary as we all naturally grieve in our own particular way, but can decide to include elements like:
Time for meditation, whether we know how or not; or prayer
Journaling (maybe just three sentences – What do I want to see myself do today? What am I afraid of today? What do I hope for today?)
Moving out into the world to walk or cycle for a few minutes
Self-care (showering, bathing, grooming) as a practice of mindfulness, focusing on the here and now
Nourishment with simple, likeable foods – an orange, an egg your favorite way, a new type of tea, bread that you love
Appreciation for what there is to be grateful about in the coming day
We grieve best when we choose action, even small actions that provide soothing and care. As we respond to where loss has left us, we begin create a path to what will sustain us.