Easier said than done when the loss is fresh and pain a constant reminder. But it can help. I promise you. Here are some ways that helped me. Real stuff. The stuff that no one tells you. And hugs and love to you if you need this.
Let's get the hard stuff out of the way first. The tears come ALL OF THE TIME. How do you manage this? I had a friend who had her eyeliner tattooed on after her son passed. I considered it for a minute. Another friend shared that she cried in the shower, as she was already wet and no one could hear her. That idea I ran with, and it helped. Don't get me wrong though, sobbing in the shower is giving in to the pain and it is hard.
Here is what I learned about tears - if you stop them they come back double hard later. So, I scheduled tears as often as I could. I didn't want to cry in the car, on the way to work and arrive with huge red swollen eyes. So, I downloaded hard rock songs from my favorite TV show, "Supernatural", and played that playlist every day for a year. Imagine AC/DC "Hells Bells", Kansas' "Wayward Son" and "House of the Rising Sun" by Animals. Not my usual playlist, but at full volume, the tears stayed away. My ears may yell at me later. But, that was much better than the radio surprising me with "You should be here" by Cole Swindell - no offense Cole. Put a box of kleenex in your car passenger seat, small packages in every coat pocket, your work bag, your diaper bag, your robe pocket, EVERYWHERE, and just own it.
No one tells you this, but If you love you will eventually grieve. Big Love means the potential for Big Grief. But no one prepares you. You have the opportunity to help others prepare. Every tear that runs down your face in front of someone shows them that it is okay to do the same. What a gift. Give freely.
If books are your thing: By some bizarre coincidence, I found a book, Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie by Beth M. Howard, before Mike passed. It was the book that I needed before I realized that I did. The author tells her messy story of losing her husband, traveling around the country in an RV, and how she starts making pie. This book gave me permission to grieve my way, do what I needed, and just embrace the mess. I read it before he left and listened to it after, for comfort. If she could do it, I knew I could do it. I still want to visit her in the little American Gothic house for a piece of pie.
I continually needed validation that I was "doing it right" (so ridiculous) and Confessions of a Mediocre Widow: Or, How I Lost My Husband and My Sanity by Catherine Tidd gave me some of that comfort. Again, she wasn't perfect. She was a big 'ole mess looking to survive and find some happiness going forward. My kind of gal. Thank you, Catherine!
I was shocked to find that the funeral home had wonderful grief support opportunities. Who knew? I already had a therapist or would have taken their offer of this type of help. I so appreciated the check-in calls and ear. I highly encourage everyone to seek out these services. All of it. Having someone to be unfiltered with is necessary. Support groups are available through the funeral home, often, as well as your hospice, nursing home, church, etc. So many places. Take them up on it. And life coaches. Of course life coaches. Three plus years with my coach and Ken still holds a safe space for my grief. Huge blessings.
The funeral home also put me in touch with a daily email service that was a gift, "A Season for Grief Emails". Each day I received a snippet that helped me just a little. Very manageable, like this: "Grief is a unique experience. Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own." There is prayer included if it is helpful to you.
Have you ever tried podcasts? I found the drive home from work, where I had the challenges of work and people but also the support, was where I transitioned to my worst moments. I was most often heading home to be alone with my thoughts. I searched for my first podcast and found Joann Filomena's "Widowcast". The recordings are about 30 minutes each time and cover everything from the emotions, to cleaning out the closet when you are ready and your beloved's family. She made me feel normal and made me think about ways to get my life back. I listened to over a hundred episodes and look for specific topics when I need them now.
Grief is unique and all yours. There is no wrong way. What works best for you? Please share. And we will sit in the sun, eat pie, and let the tears go.