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.