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I Love Carolyn Hax’s Advice About Grief

Listen, I usually think that Hax gives good advice, but this particular column was read on a day when I needed to read it. No, my situation was not like the woman who asked the question — dealing with the loss of her baby conceived via IVF and, subsequently, the end of her marriage — but it was stressful for me, and I had been emailing with a friend about the concept of self-care when you don’t really have the space to practice self-care just that morning.

Hax has the woman visualize what she is going through as an actual uphill climb, and talks about how the same things that would sustain you on that physical trip — breaks, sleep, food — are the same things that could sustain her on this emotional trip. As she writes, “[The struggle will] be no less grueling; you’ll just be better equipped to manage the burden.”

And she goes further to talk about the basic self-care that this woman can manage in the moment, not as an escape but as something that can help her keep putting one foot in front of the other: “Beyond sleep and nutrition, such care is a matter of personal preference, but an easy option — we’re all about easy here — is to pick one from each category: exercise, art, sensory comfort, empathy.”

Hax’s whole response is like a verbal hug. And it’s the best explanation I’ve heard of self-care in a while, both how to do it and why to do it. It isn’t escape: you can’t escape your problems. Even if you go on holiday, you take your problems emotionally with you. But self-care is about fortifying yourself.

Go give the column a read. I bookmarked it.

12 comments

1 ana { 02.28.16 at 9:07 am }

Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly what I need right now. Very different situation but it is a sort of grief. Unfortunately nutrition is the hardest for me to stick to and sleep is out of my control.

2 Bea { 02.28.16 at 9:12 am }

Good one to point out for me just now as well. Seems people everywhere around me are hurting just now and some of them aren’t coping well. I don’t want to give unwanted advice to them of course, but this is a good way of looking at it in case anyone asks. And maybe it helps me look for and arrange or anyway understand what they might need.

3 a { 02.28.16 at 10:44 am }

That is amazingly good advice. Sometimes I wonder if people who give that kind of advice have wonderful lives or exceedingly terrible ones.

4 KeAnne { 02.28.16 at 10:54 am }

Wow. What amazing advice!

5 illustr8d { 02.28.16 at 11:51 am }

Thank you.

6 Sharon { 02.28.16 at 1:04 pm }

I love Hax and read her regularly. I also liked this advice

7 Pamela Jeanne { 02.28.16 at 7:50 pm }

Definitely a keeper…thanks for sharing. xo

8 Cristy { 02.28.16 at 8:02 pm }

Thank you for this, Mel. I needed it today.

9 Mali { 02.28.16 at 9:10 pm }

I really like her advice, and her compassion. Self-care, I think, needs to start with self-compassion. Understanding you need that care, and giving yourself love and an emotional hug, is often the hardest part of it all.

For me, kust taking time to breathe – deeply, two or three times – is self-care, and the best thing is that it costs nothing and takes no extra time. I have used this a lot over the last six months, and it really does help. Though I wouldn’t say no to a drink with an umbrella in it, under a palm tree, somewhere tropical, either!

10 torthuil { 02.28.16 at 11:04 pm }

Wise words, thanks. Read and shared

11 No Baby Ruth { 02.29.16 at 5:31 am }

Great article and much needed. I’m also passing it along to a close friend who lost her son last year. Real, doable steps to feeling better is key; so much of the time the advice is more ambiguous.

12 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.29.16 at 9:11 am }

Love this. Saving it for later.

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