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March and Other Hard Months

You know that balance of joy and sadness? I'm currently there. My only daughter turns 18 in a few weeks but my mom's birthday is three days prior.

In my grief world, the month of March is very similar to November, where I attempt to celebrate my birthday five days after my mom's death anniversary. See why I'm exhausted? Grief is hard work. I've become pretty good at recognizing "it" when it begins to creep in; for me, that might include an unusually short temper, a need for isolation, sleeping too much or not enough, and of course, spontaneous tears (because who can forget the infamous meltdown in the clearance section at JCPenney? Not my finest hour). Because grief is rude and doesn't ask permission, I've also learned how to make space for those moments; this also includes being honest with others when expressing my needs. If you're like me- the strong/funny/nurturing friend- it can be difficult to be vulnerable.

I can promise you that stating your needs is SO much better than burnout and it provides such a feeling of relief and freedom. Try it and thank me later. If you find yourself in the throes of grief, whether it's recent or 10 years ago (because there is no timetable when you've lost someone that you love), I want to share a few things that have become daily reminders whenever I'm struggling:

  • It's okay to cancel plans, and it's okay to say "No". Because I always try to come through for everyone, this was particularly difficult to learn. Instead of feeling as if I need to explain, I now just say that it's not a good week/month for me. The end.

  • If phone calls are exhausting for you, it's okay to ask that people text you instead. Also, it's okay to turn off notifications in order to give yourself time to breathe,but don't forget to turn them back and acknowledge those are checking in and supporting you. Grief doesn't give you the right to be a jerk.

  • Sleep. Your body needs the rest, and so does your mind. Nap for an hour or stay in bed all day. If you find that you need to speak with your physician in order to achieve a good night's rest, I highly recommend it. There is no shame in prescriptions!

  • Find the joy somewhere. For me, that often includes binge-watching "I Love Lucy" because there is no mention of death in 1950's sitcoms. Extremely grateful for that.

  • Feel everything and don't attempt to numb it. The only way through grief is to go THROUGH it; allow yourself to fully experience whatever emotions arise.

  • Grief is personal and no one grieves exactly the same; as long as you're not harming yourself or anyone else, do what works for YOU. Don't worry about getting it right or wrong...give yourself grace. Significant days/months are associated with the person you lost, so it's part of the journey. You'll get through it!

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