When we are in a place of emotional stress after the death of our child, it is all we can do to handle life day-to-day (or even minute-by-minute). We are in survival mode, and it is very common during that time to stop taking care of our bodies.
Unfortunately, that is one of the worst things we can do, because some of our emotions are tied up in our physical health. Think about it. When we are getting enough sleep, eating healthy food that is fuel for our bodies and moving around (even if it is just getting outside for a short walk), it can lift our spirits a bit, causing us to feel stronger emotionally.
I know at first, when the tragedy takes us to our knees, we don’t have much of a choice. Our body just kind of seems to take over as a response to the intense grief. Some of us find ourselves eating unhealthy “comfort foods” constantly. Others discover they don’t eat anything at all for a few days. Some of us can’t seem to stay awake and all we can do is sleep. Others want desperately to sleep, but even with sleep aids it still seems to elude them.
Me? I slept a lot and continually grabbed the comfort foods, which added another unwanted thirty pounds on my body. I struggled for ten years, trying to get my health back under control.
We all get to a point where the fog starts to lift, and we are left with the reality of the depth of our pain and horrific loss. Many of us continue in the pattern we found ourselves in, convincing ourselves we are helpless to stop.
I want to encourage you that is not true. What is usually happening, is that we see ourselves as a victim of the circumstance and let that become our identity. (My identity became, “I am the mother of a child who died.”) If we continue to believe that is our identity, we will continue to believe things won’t change, and we will continue to struggle, both emotionally and physically.
At some point, we will come to a place where we start making the choice. “Do I want to stay a victim and let that become my identity? Or do I want to figure out how to climb out of this pit of darkness and back into a place of hope and light and life?”
Is it time for you to make that choice of climbing out of the grief pit, taking a look at some of your unhealthy habits that can make it even more difficult to find your way out? Even if you are not at that place yet and are still in those early times where the grief consumes you, it is possible to start making your way out with teeny tiny baby steps, by taking back your health.
Take a minute and think: What is one small thing you can do, that you have let go? I’m not talking about making a commitment to doing this thing every day from now on. What can you do today, and maybe tomorrow? Then tomorrow ask yourself the same question.
If you miss a few days, don’t feel guilty. When you are ready again, just do one small thing toward taking back your health. Just keep working toward it, because it is worth the effort, no matter how small, as it begins to build!
As I shared, it took me over ten years to get serious about wanting to get healthy after my daughter, Becca, died. I have been able to lose over forty pounds (not quite down to my high school weight) and keep it off for several months now. But it has been more than just weight loss. There have been so many “non-scale” victories, as I am still learning how to live a healthy lifestyle that goes beyond just the food I put (or don’t put) in my mouth.
I knew what to do; I just wasn’t doing it, which is true for most of us. Surrounding yourself with those who are on the same journey, having others who are ahead of you cheering you on, learning how to change your mind set about things like food and healthy movement (notice I did not say working out) and having an easy way to fuel your body, could make all the difference for you, just like it did for me.
For several years, GPS Hope has had support and resources available to help with the spiritual, emotional and mental well-being after the death of our child. It has bothered me that we had nothing to offer for our physical well-being though, as I personally continued to have my own struggles in this area. Until now!
Because I am so convinced at how crucial it is that GPS Hope also has a way to provide support and resources for pareavors to get their health back, I have committed myself to being a health coach for pareavors who want extra help in this area.
Weight loss is difficult, but it is only one part of a true health journey. I would be happy to do a health assessment with you, to help you see where changes can be made on your health journey as a pareavor. We can also figure out if I would be a good fit as a health coach for you, and what that entails.
I have been able to go from destructive unhealthy habits in my grief that had me dragging, to a place of flourishing energy and good health, and have helped other pareavors do the same. Are you ready to make that same change of paths?
Click here to schedule a thirty minute one-on-one health assessment.
To hear more on this topic, listen to the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope podcast, episode 179: Health and Self-Care After Child Loss.
Expressions of Hope is provided by Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). The founders, Dave and Laura Diehl, travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, and bringing intimate weekend retreats to bereaved parents. Laura is also a singer/songwriter and the author of multiple award-winning books.
If you would like more information about bringing Dave and Laura to you for an event, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in bringing GPS Hope to your area for a weekend retreat click here.
- Check out the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope weekly podcast
- Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube channel.
- If you are a bereaved parent, we encourage you to connect with us on our private Facebook page or our public Facebook page.
- If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.