Because you have a broken heart. Your world as you know is no longer the same. A relationship to someone or to something has ended and/or changed substantially. And you are grieving that end and/or change because the relationship was significant to you. That is why answering the question, ‘What is self love and why is it important especially when you’re grieving’ is vital.
Grief and loss is the normal and natural response to loss of any kind, despite it possibly feeling completely abnormal and unnatural. It doesn’t matter whether this is your first loss experience or not, grief is a reflection of your unique relationship with whomever or whatever has been lost.
Grief and Loss Events
The following is an incomplete list of experiences and events that may perpetuate grief and loss.
- Death of a loved one – which may include family, friend, celebrity, or any other person you have a significant connection to.
- Death of a pet
- Divorce – which extends beyond the couple and may include children, family and friends.
- End of or significant change of a relationship – friendships, relationship with a colleague, business partner, family member, etc.
Pivotal moments in your life such as:
- End of addictions
- Major health changes – positive and negative
- Career changes/Job loss
- Financial changes – positive and negative
- Legal problems
- Empty Nest
Intangibles that may cause us to grieve are loss of:
- Unfulfilled hopes, dreams, goals and expectations for your life
Whatever your loss is, or the combination of losses, it is paramount that you don’t disconnect from your personal needs and keep a flow of love coming into your broken heart.
Self-love, can be your anchor to help you feel grounded while in a time of potentially full-throttle overwhelm, especially when you are grieving. You may be feeling like you don’t have a clue about anything because of the significant emotional upheaval you are experiencing.
It can be difficult to absorb that there are things that have remained the same despite how your world may be, seem, look and feel entirely different right now.
Essentially, self-love is your emotional connection to you that “remains constant” despite the fact that you are currently in turmoil by your loss. It is your unconditional love for yourself that can sometimes feel like the x-factor, because it’s always there no matter who, what, where, and when life happens.
It is the inherent knowingness that your love, faith and compassion for and in yourself, will be your North Star in this very chaotic time in your life. That knowingness allows you to feel all you are feeling without losing yourself in the process.
Self-Love and Grieving
You may be reading this for yourself, or know someone else who is going through a tremendously difficult time. Either way, being mindful of what you are feeling or seeing in yourself or someone you love, can help you in exercising your judgment to ensure you are getting what you need.
Grief commonly contributes to you having:
- an inability to focus on or to concentrate on things as you normally would
- lacking an appetite, eating distractedly or being disconnected to food in general.
- sleeping may be erratic which can further amplify your emotions, lack of concentration, and eating habits
- impact your overall physicality: feeling heavy and/ or empty
Taking care of you by adding a concentrated dose of self-love most likely won’t seem obvious or important but it is important especially when you are grieving. Because you are the one who is experiencing the loss, and taking care of you in all ways is vital in this moment and always.
During times of emotional stress your internal narrative can be a barrage of contradictions, not to mention all the input from those supporting you during your grief. It can be a lot and sound very noisy.
Negative self talk is not exceptional in grief and when it is flowing it’s not uncommon to get caught up in it. Are there things you wish you had done more of, done things better or differently? Maybe you wish you hadn’t held off on telling them something and now you regret holding back and berating yourself for it.
With your self-love anchor in place it can help you filter the thoughts about yourself, others and the current circumstances. It helps you to steer you out of that flow and never forget that it’s only temporary.
Self-Love helps you to manage the Self-Talk both in the moment and recover in the future, and aids in reconnecting you with your innate knowingness that you will be okay.
You have probably heard the phrase ‘Be gentle with yourself’, and during times of grief and loss it can’t be repeated enough.
Right now in the wake of your loss you may be vacillating between feeling sympathetic, or feeling sorry for yourself, and empathizing with your situation by feeling the discomfort of all the emotions that are rolling in and out. Know that it’s okay because empathy is often confused with sympathy. Empathy is understanding that your feeling state is currently fluid and at times confusing, self-love allows you to go with the flow without veering to far away from your core.
Diminishing how you are feeling when you are grieving doesn’t serve you now or in the future. Self-love is you being emotionally honest about how, in this moment and about this experience, you are not fine.
Knowing that is your truth and owning it is self-love.
The roller coaster of emotions is not awesome, yet you are sound and secure in the knowing that these feelings are not permanent. Being honest about how you are feeling also extends to allowing others be emotionally truthful in a positive way.
You know how you are feeling, as you are grieving. Granted it may not be the easiest array of feelings given the situation and that is the complexity of grief and loss.
I or anyone else for that matter does not know how you are feeling, even if we have had a similar grief event in our life and think that we do.
Intellectual parallels can be drawn from others’ experiences, but at the end of the day, your grief is based on your relationship with whomever or whatever that has changed or ended, as is mine, as is theirs.
Others may tell you they know ‘how you feel and how you will feel’ because of what they felt that during their experience. Grief does not come with check boxes.
Being self-aware helps you to discern what is yours and what is not yours, emotionally. Thus giving you the insight of what bears keeping and what to let go of.
Getting a massage or spa treatment, which some may define as self-love, is more under the heading of self-care. Whether you take time to exercise, meditate, or get a massage to alleviate stress is an absolute positive act of self-love.
Time outs for self-care are fundamentally different than isolating yourself so that you grieve alone. In the past it was believed that grief should be kept private and that you should put on a brave face. As our world makes strides to evolve emotionally there may be a buried belief that you should be by yourself, during this time.
Caring for your physical, mental and spiritual self may seem more manageable and with actionable exercises that will positively affect your emotional plane as well. Giving yourself permission to create the space to decompress, to breathe, to take moments to quiet your mind is beneficial in all ways.
If this was happening to someone that you love, other than you, how would you show them compassion? It is often easier to see how you would show up for someone else during their time in grief, yet we lack that perspective for our own self.
“Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Dr. Kristen Neff
Taking a moment for yourself to put yourself in a place to observe yourself, this event and the many threads extending through, can help you nurture your self-love and ease some of the stressors.
Others may be asking you what you want and what you need on a constant basis. This can be both welcome and frustrating in the midst of your current situation. You may feel compelled to agree to things that you don’t want or asking for things that you don’t need in order to comply and appease others.
Self-Love is you listening to yourself and saying yes to what you want and no to what you don’t want.
There may be a lot of people telling you, “You should…” and some of those things are for your well being. Such as,
‘You should eat something.’ or ‘You should get some rest.’
Other ‘You should” statements can be an opportunity for you to invoke all of the self-love components. Pausing to listen to what follows gives you an opportunity to let it land so that you can respond honestly. Not all suggestions or shoulds’ feel good when you hear them, choose asking for clarity over contesting their suggestion.
Clarity may be in short supply at this time, but you can advocate for yourself by asking for what you need. Asking why, can be highly effective to learn the reasons and gain understanding as to what the ‘you should’ means to you.
Filling in the blanks can help you get the information, and in turn the clarity you need in order to make a decision.
Self-Love is Healthy
Understanding what self-love is and why it is important especially when you’re grieving can help you navigate your way, during this and other life experiences in the future. Your self-love is unique to you, as are the elements that positively nurture and cultivate it.
Your healthy connection to loving yourself is a valued resource in turbulent times, and self-love is a conduit to your emotional resilience. Self-love, especially when you are grieving, allows you to honour yourself and others while you are immersed in this moment, and those to come.