Grief, Crisis, and the Importance of Self-Care
Note: This blog is adapted from my newsletter that went out to my mailing list on May 22, 2018.
If you already work with me or are part of my BodyIntelligence Community on Facebook, you probably know that last month I experienced the loss of my father. While he was 94 years old, his death was still unexpected. He enjoyed his two great life passions – jazz and English literature – to the very end. I am so grateful that, despite numerous challenges, he was able to spend his last few years as he wished – namely with mum in their own home – because of the help of some truly wonderful care-givers.
As you can imagine, my work schedule was turned upside down – along with many other things in my life.
I went to Sheffield in the UK, accompanied by my husband, for two weeks, and spent the time making many of the various and numerous arrangements that had to be made, not least of which was finding a place in a care home for my mother. She is now at that stage with Alzheimer’s where she needs 24-hour care. I’m grateful that I was able to find her a place in a nice home where she is safe and will be cared for well. The reports after her first week there are that she is happy and settling well – both from the home itself, and from friends who have visited her. That is such a relief.
I am especially grateful for the support and help from friends while I was there, which made a difficult time easier for me in so many ways.
I came home to Wilmington for my son’s graduation from university. It was great to have something to celebrate.
Prioritizing my own self-care at this time, while certainly challenging on occasion, has been so important and helpful to me. I’m grateful that I have the Alexander Technique in my self-care “tool kit” and that many self-care practices are such a part of my daily routine, that it made it easier to keep them up. They are just part of what I do.
This included, for the most part, daily walks, constructive rest (even if for just a few minutes), and doing the “Cycle of Ease,” a practice of noticing ease in yourself that is super helpful in lowering stress responses. I also kept up a gratitude practice, posting as often as possible in the BodyIntelligence Community Facebook group.
My friend, Miriam Grace, an experienced Gestalt psychotherapist, also introduced me to a wonderful meditation by Sandy Newbigging from his Body Calm meditation program, which I found particularly helpful. It included a sequence of phrases to think to yourself, with a light and open focus on different parts of the body. I have recently found myself adapting the sequence for myself by including an awareness of the possibility of ease in the different areas, as follows:
I am free to notice ease in my feet.
I am secure.
I am free to notice ease at the base of my spine.
I am supported.
I am free to notice ease at my center (or navel).
I am strong.
I am free to notice ease in my solar plexus.
I am calm.
I am free to notice ease in my heart.
I am open.
I am free to notice ease in my throat.
I am kind.
I am free to notice ease in my forehead.
I am free.
I am free to notice ease at the top of my head.
I am worthy.
I am free to notice ease all around me.
I am enough.
I am free to notice ease within me.
(I am healed.)*
* I have put this last phrase in parentheses, as I am not 100% comfortable with the phrase “I am healed.” However, Newbigging clarifies that you don’t have to feel strong or calm or indeed healed, you just allow the thought gently. It’s not a “should,” rather an invitation or a possibility. And you hold it a moment and let it go. There is no right way to be. When I remember this, that I am simply allowing for the possibility of healing, I find it much more acceptable, so thought I would include it.
I wanted to share this sequence, as you may find it helpful, too. Some of Newbigging’s phrases are exactly what I already use as prompts/directions for myself – word for word! Let me know what you think!
And so, I return to Sheffield tomorrow for my father’s funeral next week. I’ll also be continuing with the process of settling my father’s estate (sounds a lot grander than it is) and visiting my mother. I’m looking forward to a somewhat easier pace than my last trip, and for the chance to spend time with friends, too.
[Update: I am currently at the very end of my second visit to Sheffield as I post this blog. While still lots to do, things have gone well, the funeral was lovely in many ways, and mum seems content and has adjusted well in her new home.]
As a read the meditation offered here, I felt it . . .like a release in the webbing around my heart. Just a little, and that was with a quick read. Thank you. I am going to use this language structure in my own bodymind practices over the next weeks.
Oh, and I always consider the word “healed” as whole . . .
I have found it very helpful – I am so glad it resonated with you, too.
Thank you for very beautiful sharing about your GRIEF and the self help practice.
HOW to understand “I am free to notice ease all around me. I am enough. ”
WHAT other words could one use for ‘I am enough.’?
Andrzej, thanks so much for your comment. To me the phrase “I am enough” addresses thoughts we often have about being inadequate in some way, whether they are consciously voiced or not – of not being clever enough, or attractive enough, or fit enough, or confident enough, etc,. etc. So the idea of “I am enough” to me is empowering. It reminds us that we don’t need to be anything other than how we are. I hope that makes sense.
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