As I recently typed out an email response to a friend of a poor woman who had lost a husband at sea, it occurred to me that it’s possible to distill the best advice into one single point: there are no rules, do what you need.
If you’re newly bereaved and reading this, I implore you to put yourself first. You’ll likely be slammed with a maelstrom of emotions and both physically and emotionally exhausted. Now is not the time to be a people pleaser, the only thing that matters is that you look after yourself.
Do what you need, what works for you.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do, where you ought to be. Forget about social norms and your in-laws' expectations. Grief is an endurance event; you’ll have time for thank you letters later. Right now, your only job is to somehow survive.
Do whatever it takes to get you through these awful first few days and weeks. If you need to curl up on the couch, lie on the floor wailing, go back to bed, or distract yourself with frantic busyness, that’s okay. It's okay to drop the super-human facade, to let your world crumble.
If you’re craving solitude or needing space, be brave enough to shut your door and stick a Do Not Disturb sign on it. One of our clients even told me they resorted to padlocking the front gate to keep (well-meaning) visitors out. Well done you, I thought.
My advice is simple: There are no rules. Do what you need.
If you’re looking for more support, we’ve designed a self-paced course just for you. It’s called Facing the Day, and it’s specifically designed to help you do just that. It’s everything I wish I’d known when I was first bereaved. Find out more here.
You will learn practical tools and techniques to ensure you are as empowered and prepared as possible to get your life back on track, and work towards a greater sense of control and calm.