Chapter 6: Caring for yourself

Physical and emotional care

The grief expert says
Alex speaks about how people cope a day at a time after suicide loss. (3:22)Video transcript
Alex speaks about how difficult it can be for people to see their strength and resilience. (3:22)Video transcript

When people ask, “Are you looking after yourself?” I want to ask, “Are you volunteering to help?”

I never knew that grief was so overwhelming until I experienced it. Sometimes I just feel like I need a break to clear my head.

When something hits me, I give it space and time and attention. I keep my guard up and say, “I need to deal with this now before it becomes physical.” I need time and space to work through the pain.

Grief is often emotionally and physically exhausting. Your sleep might be disrupted; your appetite might increase or decrease. Daily routines and basic activities, such as bathing or showering, can become disrupted, especially if you have also been traumatized.

During this time, finding ways to care for yourself can seem difficult or impossible, but it’s important. Your past “tried and true” habits may no longer work. This may be a time to try something new. Equally important, this is a time to ask for and accept help from others.

Physical and emotional health go together. Click on each box for suggestions and ideas.

As best you can, look after your basic needs, including eating healthy foods, drinking water, and getting some rest.  Try to focus on small things at first, such as having a daily shower or bath; eating small, healthy meals; or going for a short walk. Consider trying something new, and ask others to help with tasks such as meals or grocery shopping.

The thoughts and feelings that come with grief can be very painful and hard to manage. In addition to reaching out for support from others, you may need to find ways to distract yourself. This is a healthy strategy as long as you aren’t harming yourself or avoiding your grief completely. “Compartmentalizing” your grief (or “putting it in a box”) may allow you to take a break from grief and deal with everyday tasks or challenges.

Caring for yourself also means being compassionate and kind with yourself. Recognize that this is a difficult time for you, and for others too, and make room for things to be different than they were. Reflect on how you are doing, and acknowledge your own sense of strength and resilience when possible.


Helpful resources - Module 7 – Caring for yourself