The moment life altering information is delivered to you, your systems go into overload. Your mind is processing the information intellectually while your body is firing off its own responses like sweating, dry mouth or upset stomach. The sympathetic nervous system controls our body's response to any perceived threat and it is what controls your fight or flight response. At the same time new neural pathways are connecting and lighting up creating a memory of the experience. This creates lasting consequences.
How we deal with the trauma of grief has incredible influence over our healing process. When all is lost, go deep within. Move to ground zero. You have now entered the ring of fire.
Here are three things you can do to ground and support yourself if you're in the ring of fire:
- Small moves: Now is not the time to make any big decisions. When you're at ground zero it's best to say safe - literally and figuratively. And that means keeping things simple. Don't try to do anything more than the basics: eat, sleep, process, take care of required details, whatever is required to keep things moving, but not much else. In Texas, we say - "hunker down". The early days, weeks and months of grief deserve the reverence our culture seems to bypass. Take your time in this space. Go slow.
- Rest: Your body needs sleep so you can function. Lack of sleep + grief are a recipe for disaster. Your body, mind and spirit need to recuperate and repair each night. The emotional stress of grief is almost impossible to bear if you're exhausted and running on fumes. It's hard enough when you're rested and well fed. Gift yourself the care of putting sleep high on your priority list. Make your sleep routine sacred. Begin winding down by turning off electronics + social media. Take a hot bath. Diffuse some essential oils. Stretch your body. Read. Find what works for you. Where you put your attention grows.
- Self Nurture: Guarding your health and well being is paramount. A grieving body is more vulnerable to a reduced immune system. If you're not eating, pick up or ask a friend to grab a protein drink for you. Drink water and some pressed juice. Shower. Yes because it's necessary, but also because a hot shower can restore you. Sit in the sun and let the natural Vitamin D soak into your skin. Take a walk around the block to get some movement and fresh air. Grief builds up in the body. Gentle movement can be the perfect thing to move some of that dark energy through you. And the more activity you get, the more likely you'll sleep better.
I'd love to hear how you are caring (or have cared) for yourself in the ring of fire. Head over to the Facebook or Instagram communities to join the conversation. The more we talk about grief and bring to light the need for prolonged and focused care, the better we will all be. I want to change the way we grieve in the West. Together we can.
*Are you interested in learning more about grief guidance and wayfinding? I offer a complimentary 30 minute session. You don’t have to move through the ring of fire alone.