This wasn’t the original theme for this week’s blog post, however, I thought it might be beneficial to share our current experience of grieving and how we are coping with grief. In this case, the loss of our beloved dog, Tiger-Lily. Tiger-Lily was a member of our family for nearly 13 years and as such I have grown up with her for over half of my life. It almost feels silly for the loss of a pet to have had such a profound impact on our family, however, when I consider all of the memories we shared together and the connection we all felt with Lily, it really isn’t silly at all.

Strategies for coping

I wanted to write this week therefore about how I am personally coping with the process of grieving, having (very luckily and thankfully) never experienced it before, and what I have noticed within myself during this time. This week feeling low and subsequently spending most of the days in bed, still in my Christmas pyjamas, I noticed feeling more drawn towards consuming and buying things than I normally would. For instance, I found myself scrolling websites and online window shopping for hours, trying to fill the void with stuff, when I know this void cannot be filled. I have to admit, I’m not perfect and I ended up buying a few things in the hope of cheering myself up;

  • a new bullet journal for 2021
  • a new jacket

Did it make me feel any better? Not particularly.

Coping with loss
coping with grief
Grief and sustainability

Positive actions

So instead, I started thinking about what I could do to help me process this experience and I thought that by sharing these, that someone else might find them helpful too. The past few days I have been taking things very slowly and letting myself ‘decompress’ and cry when I needed to. I’ve also found solitude in reading again and knitting to pass the time. I find having something to do with my hands, whether that simply being turning over the pages in a book or repeating the same stitch over and over again, helps me process things emotionally, without wallowing under the duvet for too long. What’s great about both reading and knitting is that I can still do them in bed, meaning if everything feels a bit too much, I still have something simple to do which can stop me from ruminating and allowing my thoughts to go into a downward spiral. Additionally, I love a bath and have been enjoying another place to lie down in that isn’t my bed! Today I am starting to feel a little more ‘normal’ and managed to do some yoga this morning: progress!

Grief and sustainability

Now you might be wondering, how does coping with grief relate to sustainability? Well, in noticing in myself the urge I felt to buy things I knew I didn’t need, it got me thinking about how it can often be hardest to avoid buying unnecessary things when we are feeling at our most vulnerable, or at our lowest. I wanted to note how sometimes we have to take extra care of ourselves and also acknowledge that if we do buy something and maybe feel guilty about it, that we really ought not to. In a world where are constantly bombarded with adverts targeted at our vulnerabilities (think of any product that mentions ‘self-care’, something we as a business are also guilty of) we are bound to give in sometimes, especially during difficult times.

The important thing to remember is not “I will never buy anything again”! but “I will be mindful of what I buy and try my best to use what I already own”. Berating ourselves and setting unrealistic goals will only make us feel more like giving up, when we aren’t able to complete these goals. For example, many of us in January, will have set new year’s resolutions, which are often unreachable and leave us feeling unable to complete them. With the usual rubric of new year’s resolutions, many people find that they feel they have failed, due to not reaching an assigned goal, however, what this system of goal setting overlooks is the successes and achievements already gained in the process of trying to complete a goal or resolution.

The key point here being that through trying our best at accomplishing something we have already accomplished so much more, than if we decided not to try! So the take away from all of this is really that in taking small steps towards a long term goal or setting smaller short term goals, this allows us to recognise the achievements we are making all of the time and leaves us feeling more motivated to continue. When we think in terms of being more sustainable or environmentally friendly, this helps us to avoid feeling overwhelmed by a goal as big as tackling the climate crisis and helps us to focus on the things we are able to enact in our daily lies to avoid further environmental damage.

When thinking again about coping with grief and loss, as I am this week, I have found the small daily things I have been doing, such as reading and knitting, to be the most helpful in making me feel like I have accomplished something each day. Some days, this accomplishment could even just be having a shower and getting dressed, but it helps me feel more motivated to try again each day, and as each day passes I find I am coping better and able to achieve more than the day before.

I hope this week’s blog leaves you feeling supported, if like me, you have been feeling overwhelmed this week and that it encourages reflection for the new year. Let us know any tips you have for coping with grief and issues relating to goal-setting, and if you are struggling I have listed some resources below which I hope may be helpful.

  • Contacts and support for Grief/Bereavement: Mind.org
  • Calming Music (I’ve found this great if I can’t sleep or am finding it hard to relax): Chilled Cow
  • Rain Sounds: Rainy Mood
  • Knitting tutorial for anyone interested: Sheep Stitch

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