Returning to Routine & Structure After a Loss
Children's Bereavement Center
Mourning the death of a loved one can make the process of returning to daily life and recreating a routine difficult to contemplate. Death has a way of picking up and disorganizing our lives into a million little pieces. It may seem like these pieces no longer make sense, like they don’t quite fit together as they used to. This may very well be true as a big change has occurred. However, this difficult change also creates an opportunity for growth in our daily lives.
Creating routines and structure can have a powerful impact on our ability to heal in loss. Taking the time to reorganize our daily routine and create a sense of predictability can help bring comfort in the grieving process. Here are some suggestions that can be helpful in adapting to life after loss.
- Analyzing current routine – In organizing our duties and priorities it is important to analyze the impacts of our current routines. How are they benefiting us physically and mentally? What is no longer applicable to our lifestyle? Making changes in our routines provides us room to grow and add activities that are of value.
- Creating a list and accomplishing small tasks – At times we may feel like there is no progress being made, making grief feel complicated. Creating a list of different chores and errands to be completed can simplify daily tasks especially those that are new. It is also important to remind ourselves of simple goals we have accomplished such as cooking a meal, working out, or washing dishes. Although they may seem like insignificant tasks in the bigger picture, it is not necessarily so when we have experienced loss. We are allowed to celebrate accomplishing these small goals.
- Prioritize – Prioritizing our needs is crucial when we lose a loved one. Attempting to do it all at once can lead to mental and physical exhaustion. Therefore, we should take into consideration what is most important to accomplish on a daily basis as well as our energy level in getting started.
- Ask for support – Grieving is an individual process, but it does not have to be a lonely one. Asking for support when needed is crucial in bringing a sense of consistency into our life. Wanting to do it all will only lead to certain tasks getting dropped and potential negative emotions that can come from that. Thus, asking for support and delegating tasks is not only a way to relieve some stress but also connect with family, friends and community members wanting to help.
- Add self-care to routine – At difficult moments in life we lose focus on ourselves leading to a low sense of awareness of our physical and mental needs. It is important to listen to our body and know when we need to rest or a little extra love. Adding daily self-care to our calendar can bring awareness to our needs as well as ways to cope.
- Monitor Isolation – It is easy to want to isolate ourselves from the world when we are in pain. Taking time alone can be important in helping us process loss. However, just as crucial is admitting when we are deliberately isolating ourselves from family, friends and even work for an extended period of time. When creating a new routine, include time spent socializing with others. Especially those individuals that can provide a sense of comfort and support.
- Gratitude – When we think of gratitude in grief it can bring up complicated emotions. We may feel guilty in being grateful for being alive. However, giving thanks for what we still have is a way to be kind to ourselves and others. Making it a point to express gratitude on a daily basis can help refocus our lives in a positive way.
It can be easy to lose focus on our daily needs when we have lost a loved one. However, neglecting yourself can slow down the healing process. Taking the above suggestions into consideration when restructuring our lives can help bring a bit more stability in the midst of loss. Most importantly, being patient and kind with ourselves goes a long way to manage life’s daily responsibilities.
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