When we are grieving, the big things going on in our life right now seem to swallow up the
basics. The biggest basic is to take care of YOU. You have enough problems right now
without adding any additional health problems to the list. Here are 5 simple basics I learned
as a child that apply even more so today, especially if you are grieving. It's so very important
that even in your grief, you remember to take care of YOU.

Never start the day without breakfast.

I never cared for breakfast much. Pancakes and syrup were too sweet;  toast was burnt
bread;  oatmeal was mushy, and cereal got soggy too fast. But I always ate breakfast. Why?
Because my mom made me. She just wouldn't let me start the day without eating breakfast ~
ever! It was almost a religion with her and there was no room for discussion. She said, "Your
body can't function if it doesn't have breakfast to get its motor running." She equated it to
trying to operate a car with an empty gas tank.

So, her solution to my lack of breakfast-enthusiasm was a smiley face! She would poach two
eggs (even before microwaves!) and arrange them with a slice of cantaloupe on my plate. It
looked like a goofy smiley face, but it added some fun to breakfast. On days when she knew I
was really grumpy, she would turn the cantaloupe slice upside down like a sad face. As I sat
down at the table, she would say with a grin, "I hope you don't wander around all day looking
like that!" She had a terrific sense of humor and it always put a smile on MY face. I never
knew if it was the nourishment to my body or the nourishment to my spirit, but her smiley-face
breakfast always made my day!

Now, when you're grieving, sometimes food is the LAST thing you want to think about.
Sometimes it's hard enough just to get out of bed in the morning. You're not hungry. You have
no appetite. That's okay, because it's normal. But you still need to eat. If necessary, think of
breakfast as medicine. Swallow it one bite at a time, if for no other reason than it will give
your body strength for the stress you must endure today. You may argue like I used to as a
kid and say you just don't need it, but you do. In fact, you need it now more than ever
because you are under so much added stress these days. If you can't do it for yourself, do it
for me. If not for me, do it for my mom. Even though she lives in Heaven now, I know it will
make her smile! You might even try the old poached eggs and cantaloupe ploy!  At least it will
guarantee you get to see at least ONE smile today!

Drink plenty of water.

Recess was my favorite subject in school! I thought recess was just playtime, but it was
designed to release that pent up energy I absorbed sitting behind my desk. Of course, it was
also so my teachers could rest from all that pent up energy I absorbed sitting behind my desk.
But after recess, I always headed straight for the water fountain to quench my thirst.  
Releasing pent up energy is hard work and can leave you dehydrated.

Grieving is hard work, too. You may not feel dehydrated, but generally you aren't taking in as
much fluid as you are expending, even if you are holding back the tears. Stress causes a lot
of damage to your body and results in a lot of things inside that really need flushed out. So
drink plenty of water. No, not coffee and diet cola. Those things are okay, but they don't
count. Okay, so I'm hearing my mother's words again: "You need to wash out your insides just
like you do the outside. You don't take a bath in coke and coffee."  Drink water.

If water is like breakfast and you just don't want it, drink it like medicine because your body
truly does need good, fresh water. Doctors say to drink at least six to eight 8-oz. glasses of
water a day, even more during periods of stress. I think if I were to drink that much water
every day I would probably drown. That's a LOT of water. But set a goal to drink a goodly
amount, maybe just start with two glasses and work your way up, but get into the habit of
drinking water. Add a slice of lemon or ice if you need to, but remember you need water even
if you do usually drink two colas and fourteen cups of coffee a day.

I put a half-gallon pitcher filled with water in my fridge, and by the end of the day I'm always
surprised how little of it I've actually drank. So you might think you are drinking more water
than you actually are. Try measuring a portion for a day or two to see how much you are
really drinking.

Exercise at least a little bit each day.

Remember elementary school? We had to do calisthenics whether we wanted to or not.
Why? Because it's healthy. No, I'm not saying you have to do push-ups and jumping jacks
when you just barely feel like putting one foot in front of the other. But some form of exercise
is healthy and with everything else going on in your life, you need to stay healthy. Take a
walk, even if just to the mailbox and back for a start. Tomorrow, walk to the neighbors mailbox
and back. Going to the grocery store? Park in the farthest parking space in the parking lot
and walk.  It's free exercise. Don't want to leave the house? Then, weed the flower bed. But
do something that gets you moving and off the couch. Not only will it make you feel better, it
will help you fall asleep when bedtime rolls around.

I used to say the only time I exercise is when my pantyhose run, or when I'm jumping to
conclusions, or hopping mad. But it's amazing how even just a little exercise when you're
really stressed out, can put things in a different perspective. Okay, you don't feel like walking
by yourself? Think of each step as medicine. Put one foot in front of the other and just start
walking. Know that every step is helping your heart to heal and getting you one step closer to
living again.

Always take your medicine.

As a child, I would never take medicine on purpose. It tasted nasty and I hated it. In fact, if my
mother didn't chase me down and threaten to sit on me, I would never have swallowed the
stuff.

Now, I'm not going to chase you down and threaten to sit on you. But seriously, if you are on
prescription medication for a current health problem, please don't forget to take your
medication. Now is not the time to forget, even though now may be the time you are forgetting
everything but your grief. If you are diabetic, or have high blood pressure, or any other
physical ailment that resulted in a prescription medication, please remember to take it
faithfully.

When your world has crumbled, it's easy to forget things, leaving your own health issues
buried underneath the rubble somewhere. Do whatever it takes to find a way to remember.
Post a note on the fridge, tack a sticky-note on your bedside clock,  tie a string around the
coffee pot handle or hang a note from the ceiling fan chain. Things are really tough right now,
but will be made much tougher if you get sick. You really don't want those kinds of problems
on top of everything else you are already going through.

Not taking medication for anything? Then post those sticky notes to remind you to eat
breakfast, drink plenty of water, and exercise, at least until you get back in the habit. I had so
much trouble remembering things in my grief, that I filled my world with those little yellow "nag-
notes". It was the only way I could remember!

Don't overdo.

As a child, my favorite snack was chocolate chip cookies. Mom never put them in my lunch
box. Desert in my lunch box always consisted of fruit. But for an afternoon snack I could have
THREE with a glass of milk. Heaven to a six year old! Even though I often begged for just
one more, she wouldn't let me overdo. That's the nicest part of being a kid – never being
allowed to overdo. Sure, as a kid I resented it, but I can look back now and see that it was
good that I had someone to remind me when enough was enough.

When you're grieving, you may not have someone around to remind you of that. That's why
I'm telling you. Don't overdo. That means that no matter what you are doing, don't overdo it.
Don't go overboard with donuts or chocolate chip cookies or that bag of potato chips or that
gallon of ice cream. Overeating will not erase your grief. Don't overdo your rest. Sleeping
your life away will not cause your grief to disappear, it will only postpone it. Don't spend your
entire day crying. Tears are a necessary part of grief, but too many will only give you a really
bad sinus headache. This is from someone who bought tissues by the case.

The only thing you should overdo while grieving, is prayer. Remember: God is great. God is
good. Let us thank Him. For no matter your circumstances, no matter your stage of grief, God
is great, God is good. He is with you always, and will be your strength to get you through the
days, months, years ahead of you. For THAT, give thanks. He loves you and will see you
through your grief, bringing you peace that can only be found in Him. Spend plenty of time
with Him in prayer, for there is where you will find comfort and the courage to continue in this
new life without your loved one. Have faith! You can do this and He will help you every step
of the way if you let Him.

In all seriousness, I don't know your own personal circumstances. I know you are grieving, or
else you wouldn't be here reading this page. Please know that my heart goes out to you on
your loss and I do have some idea of what you are going through. I have no words to take
your pain away but I hope I have given you a little extra encouragement. Please take care of
yourself. Someone loves you, of that I'm sure, and you need to take care of yourself even
when you don't care. Trust me. If you focus on the Lord and allow Him to walk with you in
your grief, there WILL come a time when you will care again. That time will come sooner if
you are taking care of yourself in the process.

May God truly bless you and bring you Peace.
Remember to Take Care of YOU!
© Ferna Lary Mills


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