So, two weeks ago, I optimistically wrote about “getting back in the groove” after life pulls you out of a routine. And I was thinking at the time about a post that would be a follow-up to the great Tweetchat I had with the #BCSM (Breast Cancer and Social Media) Community about coping with life’s other curveballs during the middle of cancer treatment. I had a lot of ideas about what we can do to help connect with self-care even while we are trying to keep up with life’s twists and turns.
And then I caught one of those curveballs myself. My grandmother died unexpectedly last week. It was a good death–she was surrounded by all of her children and many of her grandchildren and lifted up with love and prayers. But it came out of the blue. And I spent the week in a fog. I may still be in a fog. Certainly I’ve had to re-do a lot of very simple tasks. As my dad said, this week feels a bit harder because, “Everyone expects you to be back to normal, but it’s not normal.”
This experience has reminded me of a couple of things. First, grief is like an earthquake. You have the initial shock that knocks you off your feet, but you know that it’s just the beginning. The aftershocks are coming too–and some of those can shake you just as much. Second, it is so tremendously important to be compassionate with ourselves and with others. I do grief work a LOT. And I am always reminding clients that grief deserves time and space and self-care. Even though these are things that I know down to my bones, I still had to remind myself that it was okay to miss a day of work, or reschedule clients, or just ignore the housework and catch up on some of my lost sleep.
And that reminder–the reminder that self-care is the critical element in both physical and mental health–is a big one. So very often, when I am sitting with clients, they are talking about an entire string of challenges. Not only do they have cancer, but their car just got rear-ended, or their elderly parent needs care, or their teenage child is acting out, or their relationship is struggling. When it rains, it pours–cliche, but true.
Does that speak to your life right now? Do you feel overwhelmed, knocked down by burden after burden? Are you struggling to understand why all of these challenges keep coming your way?
It is not because of anything you did wrong.
It is not because you “deserve” these challenges.
This is just life. There is good stuff and hard stuff. And sometimes life seems to be happening with a vengeance. If you’re in that space, remember to take time. Breathe. Schedule breaks. Ask for help. Get the support you need and the self-care you need. Hang in there, because this too will pass.
Feel free to share your favorite “hanging in by my fingernails” tip. And if you need some help or support, you can always email or call.