I’ve had a few ask how I am doing processing grief and the death of my dad. (It was three months ago today.) I thought I would take the time to write it out here and have an easy place to point to when asked.
How I am doing? I sighed deeply just writing and thinking about that question. I’m okay, good even. And I’m not, really struggling. In talking with others about grief, it appears that’s par for course. Over the past week, I’ve been struggling with heart palpitations/anxiety attacks. They get worse at night and, in those moments, I have to actively remind myself that I’m not going to die from them. It’s felt so real that I’ve teared up with gratitude in the morning when I awake… I’m alive. I’ve done what I do and researched it. The suggestions are:
- Reduce stress.
- Breathe deeply.
- Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
- Avoid stimulants
- Eat well, eat foods with good levels of magnesium/potassium, and healthy fats
- And so on…
I’m working on these and have felt some relief. Our bodies really do take a hit when our hearts are broken. I started a book a while back called The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk that talks about this fact. I’ve felt this before in myself. And, I am really feeling it as I process my grief of Dad’s physical death, as shown by the heart palpitations. The other place that I’ve discovered it is in my muscle groups. For a couple of years, I’ve experienced chronic pain in my muscles… every day feeling sore as though I had the hardest workout of my life the day before. It’s been debilitating and discouraging. Interestingly, after Dad died, the pain significantly subsided. I think the stress of Dad’s final years and months of life was relieved and my body felt that relief. But over the last week, it has come back. My disappointment can’t be overstated. But, it’s a sign of hope too… if it went away before, there’s the possibility it will again.
I’ll be honest, it feels a little insulting that I have to accept the death of my dad and processing grief… but that I have to navigate and manage its impact on my body as well. I’m not getting too stuck on that fact… but it is there. I’m mostly accepting of it, but I do sometimes resist and avoid doing the work. And that’s okay too. Grief isn’t handled one way… from person to person… or even by a single person from one time to the next. Lots of grace and love, relaxing into the experience of it and allowing it… and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself… it’s all a day-by-day learning and practice.
So, that’s where I am. And again, mostly accepting of it all while my heart, mind, and body are hurting. It’s not easy and sometimes I fret because it impacts my ability to be as productive as I should be. There are big things that I need to be doing for my family and our future… and I’m finding it horribly difficult. But again, it’s a matter of taking each step forward as I can and with full compassion for myself. After all, my dad just died.