Thanks to COPE Facilitator Janet Zimmerman, LCSW-R for this month’s Healing Tip
Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting out of bed.
You want to stay in your pajamas and just pull the sheets over your head. You want to hide. That’s understandable and real. Sometimes you need a day to just wallow in the sadness. But as you already know, doing that doesn’t really make you feel better.
The thing is, grief is work. It takes tremendous energy to do the little things, like getting up, getting dressed, making breakfast. You don’t feel like doing it. It’s too hard. You know what you should do; well-meaning loved ones are always pushing you to get out, talk to people, take a walk, listen to music, appreciate nature. You know the drill. You’ve read the books and articles. You may have heard suggestions in group, or read them in the COPE newsletter. You may have even tried some of them and know that these things DO help. But sometimes you just don’t want to do them.
But in the long run you need to create “muscle memory.” Your brain and your body need to automatically know what to do to help you survive this pain. So you get up, you brush your teeth, you reach out to a friend (maybe from a COPE group, who will totally understand what you are going through), and you try. You push yourself. What used to be automatic and easy is hard. And that is an understatement. But by pushing yourself to get through the day, by getting dressed and going for a walk, by making breakfast, by doing the laundry, you will be slowly and surely finding your way to your new normal. You will be surviving and finding ways to deal with your loss.
It’s an ultimate irony that you, who have suffered so much, should now have to work really hard to recover. Haven’t you been hurt enough? Shouldn’t you be able to be left alone? That’s how you feel. But it doesn’t work that way. You need to put in the work to get through every day. You may have to fake the smile when you see a neighbor. You may have to listen to someone’s boring story to stay socially active.
Because that is how you will get stronger. You need to go through the motions first, feeling like you are just playacting, and then you will start to feel better.. Because you will be entering life again. You will hate it. You will want to go back to bed. But the sooner you start doing the work, the sooner you will find ways to make life have some meaning again. Think of it as building blocks. You start slowly, you mess up, you give up, and then you put another brick on the pile. And at some point you will haul yourself up. And there will be sun. And there will be helpful friends and relatives. And you will begin to breathe.
Take a deep breath.
You will get there.