June 1, 2022
Sounds great, right?
But have you ever thought about why it’s so hard to exercise self-compassion, including patience with yourself, as you grieve?
Well, I have. Here, I’ll share a couple of insights I’ve gleaned since my mom’s death in December 2012.
First, let me start by saying that I’m a natural go-getter, high achieving person, focused, and unwavering in my convictions. And all of that is great when it comes to work and productivity.
However, throughout the grief process, these very qualities created a scenario in which I felt I had to do, produce, and perform rather than simply leaning into my grief.
Naturally, society reinforced my hustle mentality, leaning on suggestions for how to “live your best life.” You know … embrace the good, focus on positive vibes only, and drown out the bad. Further, as a Black woman raised in a predominantly white environment, these qualities were rewarded and applauded for the first third of my life. Needless to say, self-compassion does not come easy.
Growing up, my military-trained parents regularly insisted that I “suck it up,” “put on my big girl panties,” and just keep going. And those very remarks helped me become who I am today. Nevertheless, they also made it difficult for me to recognize that I was ignoring my feelings and doing all I could to simply muscle through grief.
So what exactly is self-compassion?
In its basic form, self-compassion refers to the idea of treating and honoring yourself as if you would a trusted friend. Think about what you’d say if a friend called you in distress.
You wouldn’t say, “Oh well, you’ll be fine. Just keep moving.”
You wouldn’t say, “Suck it up, soldier!”
And you wouldn’t say, “Just ignore how you’re feeling.”
No, you’d listen. Practice patience. You’d avail yourself in times of need. In addition, you’d be thoughtful and mindful of the words that flowed from your mouth.
In much the same way, this is what’s required as we grieve. We must listen to the thoughts and emotions that rise to the surface throughout the grief journey. We must make time to check in with ourselves and honor whatever we need at any given moment. Further, we must extend kind words towards ourselves when we struggle, have difficulty doing, or simply feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all.
Here’s a question for you, my friend.
It took me years to finally get to the place where I truly listen and respond to what I need. I worry less about other’s expectations about what I need to be doing or how I “should“ be grieving. Rather, I honor my body by giving it the rest it needs and moving it when needed. I honor my mind by questioning and challenging my thoughts, as well as allowing my thoughts to take me in many different spaces — including the dark ones. I respect what my spirit needs and spend time in quiet reflection with God in prayer.
While self-compassion isn’t something that’s widely taught in society, it is something that you can learn and apply to your own experience.
Remember, I love you and want to hear your thoughts. Please share them below.
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