How do you deal with loss?
When tragedy strikes, after the shock and disbelief, how do you support yourself and your family?
One of Josh’s relatives was killed by a neighbor on drugs this weekend. I was at work when I got the news. After the initial tears, I had to wash my face, go out and continue to care for the people who were coming in with lesser but equally relevant to them illnesses and injuries. I can put up a pretty brave front. Smile, act like you are interested, ask all the right questions, make jokes. But inside, my heart was racing, my palms were sweating, my throat felt tight. I could feel the little bursts of cortisol in my system as my body tried to assimilate the threat in response to my brain’s cues of danger.
This is a healthy and needed response for our bodies to have, and I am sure it saved many an ancestor of mine from being gored by a wooly mammoth. For many of us, though, our brain’s attempts to wade through the chronic stress and anxieties of the modern world cause anxiety, and our bodies react the same as if it was a wooly mammoth! This is such a hard thing to deal with! I have spent many years mentally chastising myself for these body responses. Anxiety is a funny thing. I have days when I feel great. I have other days when for no reason all day inside I have little cues of panic, little cortisol bursts and heart races, muscles tight, tunnel vision. And then of course, there are the days, days like yesterday, where there is a reason, although I don’t always have such a big event to trigger them.
Finally I am learning to be gentle with myself and listen to these cues as a message from my body that my brain needs care. So here is what I am learning to do to take care of myself when my anxiety or stress levels are high.
Yesterday, I was lucky to have already taken my Mito 2 Max, a beautifully formulated supplement by doTerra that I take every day to support my adrenals and help calm the “spikes” in adrenalin that come along with chronic anxiety and adrenal fatigue. Mito 2 Max helps me cope with day to day stress.
I also use a Hawthorn and Damiana tincture from Wish Garden every day. I feel it helps with the anxiety related palpitations and upset stomach I frequently get. I can tell a difference after missing my tincture for just a few days. Hawthorne is so supportive to the heart and cardiovascular system. In our interconnected bodies, I am not surprised it helps with this anxiety symptom too. Damiana, although it is best known for its use as an aphrodisiac, is calming to the mind and stomach.
Both these treatments are great for my day to day symptoms, but I was in a crisis. Luckily, I have found Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to be helpful as well as doTerra’s Serenity and Console essential oil blends. For general calming I use Serenity, for grief I use Console. Yesterday I didn’t have Console with me, but I had the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and Serenity. These helped.
On my lunch break I made sure to eat something with some salt, potassium, zinc, and vitamin C as these nutrients are all supportive of the adrenals. And today, and for the next several days as we support the family through the grieving process, I will focus on making sure my family eats nourishing meals and gets extra rest if they are able.
Lastly, today I am adding to my daily practice the goal of putting away from me any thoughts of anger and bitterness towards the man who killed her, and the justice system that knew he was a threat but did nothing until it was too late. Hate hurts the hater. Bitterness eats the soul of the bitter person and defiles everyone who is around it. As much as it feels good to have thoughts of justice and revenge at the moment, long term those thoughts turn into bitterness and hate. I do not want bitterness and hate defiling my soul or hurting me long term. So as a part of my daily spiritual practice, I am praying for peace and forgiveness in my heart. I am recognizing the sadness, helplessness and fear that drives those negative thoughts, and I am trying to hold the hurt fragile humans in my heart, while accepting that life is a gift and its outcomes are unknowable to any except God.
My job is to be brave. My job is to keep going forward with an open and helping hand. My job is to care for other humans without bitterness or hate.
Coping is hard. We Americans have coined the term “adulting” to describe coping responsibly in life and through the bad stuff. I personally always think of our current rather toxic definition of “adulting” as powering through hard things without taking care of yourself. I would like to challenge myself and you, to stop adulting for a minute. Take some time for nourishing your body, breathing, grounding, literally sitting on the ground if you need to, and checking in with your soul and spirit. What do you need in this moment to support yourself?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.