When my Dad died (a year ago today) everyone said I needed to be kind to myself. I don’t really know what being kind to yourself looks like. I guess self kindness is a form of self care. Doing things you like doing and which make you feel good, cutting yourself some slack and giving yourself time to come to terms with things and to heal.
For the last year I’ve been in a bit of a fug. I feel a bit like I’m in a plastic box and I can see and hear the real world going on around me; but it’s all muffled and I feel slightly apart from everything. It would be easy for me to just let the loss of my Dad overwhelm me, but I have my son and I don’t have the time or the space to indulge in intense grief. I just take it in small bite sized chucks. I nibble at it every day; like a giant cake of grief, just eating a few crumbs at a time. This grief cake will take a lifetime to consume.
Last night as I lay sleepless in my bed, I was thinking, when I’ve lost other family members I was broken hearted. I grieved for them and I still miss them and probably always will, but losing my Dad has really felt like losing a limb. He was such a big, important part of my life, not in an unhealthy way, we just really got each other and he was one of my best friends.
“Be kind to yourself Jane”
What does being kind to me look like? I’ve worked a little bit less. I’ve turned some things down I knew would stress me out or I wouldn’t enjoy. I have made more of an effort; not just to spend time with my son, but to spend quality time with him. I’ve just booked a holiday for the two of us in August. We are going on a family holiday with my husband too, but he can’t get the extra time off work and I just want to spend time with and have fun with my boy.
We got a dog to distract us from the grief. She’s here to keep me company at home when I’m working and to give me an excuse to stop working and go out for a walk with her. She’s also a pretty good listener and gives great cuddles.
Going away seems to feature quite strongly in my being kind to myself plan. Before Christmas I went on a spa weekend with some friends and we enjoyed it so much we are going again this weekend. I’ve a few other breaks booked in for the rest of the year. Having something to look forward to seems to help me get through the difficult days.
Despite my frequent weekends away and other holidays I’ve got booked, I feel like I hardly go out. My social life has almost ground to a halt and I hardly see friends or go out and have fun. This is partly because a lot of my friends don’t live locally, and those that do are busy people with busy lives. I’m also finding it hard to climb out of my shell. I’m slightly worried about how infrequently I see and speak to people in the real world.
I don’t know how I feel about my lack of a social life; it’s probably one of the reasons why I feel less like me than I have done in a while. Life is fairly humdrum. I’m busy being a wife and a mother. I hardly ever leave the house. I hardly see my friends. If I think about it a bit too hard I realise that I’m losing some of the colour and vitality from my everyday life.
I’m not sure where that all fits with the being kind to myself thing. I know at some point I need to start going out again and having a good time. Maybe I’ve only just got enough emotional energy to get me through the day and not enough to power me through the evenings too. Is hibernating being kind or cruel to myself? I’m not sure.
A year on I’m more determined than ever to be kind to myself. I need to find whatever makes me happy and to do more of that. I think we all need to learn how to be kinder and more considerate of ourselves.
How can you be kind to yourself?
How can you be kind to yourself? What does being kind to yourself look like today and what will that kindness look like tomorrow? Why does it take a death or something seriously life changing for us to stop and be kind to ourselves? Do me a favour, do something nice for yourself today. Treat yourself to whatever feeds your soul and makes your heart glad. You deserve it.