Additional Resources

 

Death doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that it’s made me into this hunched mass with saliva on my chin.

"What's the point of taking a shower?" is a thought that one day occurred to me.

 

There's no rulebook for what to do.

But here are some things that brought a little relief to me.

 

Take care of yourself.

That means whatever you want it to mean. Ask yourself: What makes me feel the least terrible? Maybe it's watching a lot of movies or going to the gym or standing in the shower for an hour. Whatever it is, do that thing.

 

Talk about it.

Consider a grief group, an online forum, or a therapist/counselor. But also: Consider contacting friends and family you might have lost touch with during this time. Sometimes it feels like people abandon us in the worst time. Often that's because they don't know what to say. But they may well be ready to listen. So try picking up the phone. Make plans. A lunch, a dinner, a walk in the park.

 

Read about it.

If you haven't already read The Year of Magical Thinking, do it. And C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed is considered one of the best books on loss ever written. But also, here's a list of 97 books on grief. There's even a book about reading a book a day to deal with grief.

 

Write about it.

Writing about it might mean writing about how you feel, or about the person you lost, or about how this is all bullshit. Maybe you don't think you can write or that you're a terrible speller or something. But pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard and see what happens. And you don't have to do it alone. The excellent site Refuge in Grief offers a 30-day e-course on writing about loss.

 

Try a "body scan."

Certain techniques can be helpful for redirecting thoughts and calming anxiety. One such technique is called a "body scan," in which you slowly and mindfully focus your attention on the physical sensations in each part of your body. Here's a guided body scan on YouTube. For more about this, there's the book The Mindful Way Through Depression, which includes a CD with several guided meditations.

 

Volunteer.

A soup kitchen. An animal shelter. Sometimes helping others is a way to take the focus off what you're feeling, even if it's only for an hour. And you might want to check out the Hope After Project, an initiative to build community service projects in honor of loved ones who've passed away.

 

Create a ritual for the person who's gone.

Maybe it's going once a week to a place you always went together. Or maybe it's watching the TV show she loved, even though you hate it. Or writing him a letter. Or talking to her out loud every night before bed. Creating a ritual can feel meaningful in the face of all the meaninglessness. (As it happens, my counselor suggested I have my own ceremony. At first I couldn't figure out what that meant. And later, This Life After Loss was born. Sometimes it takes a while to know. I hope you find yours, whatever it is.)

 

- M.K.

 

P.S. Is it "complicated grief"?

Clinicians distinguish between "normal grief" and "complicated grief." Here's some reading on "complicated grief" and how to know if that's what you're experiencing, and if so, what that means.