After experiencing a loss – the loss of a loved one or another major loss such as the loss of one’s health – anxiety is going to be a part of the experience. Loss raises questions that we aren’t comfortable with: How can I live without her? How can my life have meaning without him? How can I carry on knowing that I have a terminal illness? Who can I turn to for help? Will I be alone for the rest of my life? Who will care for me when I can’t care for myself? These are profound questions and often have no immediate answers, making the anxiety even more intense.
How can we move to address these questions? How can we move through the anxiety towards an experience of acceptance and calm?
The first, and I think most crucial step, is compassion for oneself. “I have had, am having, a very difficult time. I need to find ways to nurture myself while I find my way through this.” I think too often we wait for things to calm down, sort themselves out. We wait until we have some kind of resolution, answer, or degree of healing before we give ourselves permission to just take time out and be with ourselves in gentle acceptance. We wait for someone else to step in and give us the answer, support, consolation we so desperately need. The trouble is we might never get it. So what we have to do is find ways, simple, immediate ways to console ourselves, to capture a few moments of peace, to find space to breathe. It won’t solve our problems or take away our grief and pain, but it will help us as we move slowly through the anxiety, stress, grief and loss.
Suggestions to follow in Part II of this post.