My mother had a saying and used it often: The good fairy isn’t coming. The saying applied to many aspects of life. She would say it before she began a task, such as cleaning the house, or going to the grocery store. When my mother said the good fairy wasn’t coming she was implying – and showing – that I was responsible for myself. I learned this lesson in childhood and have lived it many times.
In 2007, after my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law all died, my mother’s saying came to mind. Coping with grief was up to me, not an imaginary good fairy. Instead of waiting to be rescued I would have to rescue myself. Sometimes I could almost hear my mother’s voice saying, “The good fair isn’t coming and you’re in charge of recovering from multiple losses.”
Grief is exhausting. You may feel stuck right now, unable to move forward or backward, and worrying about the future. Worse, you suspect you’ll never be happy again. As someone who has coped with multiple losses and created a new life, I can tell you happiness is possible. How can you find happiness? These steps helped me and may help you.
1. Tell yourself “I’m worthy of happiness.” I told myself this again and again. Repeating the sentence helped me believe it. You really are worthy of happiness and this belief can change your outlook on life.
2. Ask for help. Multiple losses made me evaluate my support system. Where could I get help? I turned to family first and my extended family became an ongoing support system. I turned to my church and met with my minister several times. Though my husband and I didn’t use any additional church support, we knew it was available if we needed it.
3. Practice self-care. At this challenging time of life you may be tempted to eat on the run or rely on fast food, but you need to eat regular, balanced meals. Try to get enough sleep, at least seven hours a night. Meditation can also help you take care of yourself.
4. Get a physical exam. Though you may not realize it, you may be run down or even anemic. If you haven’t had a physical exam in months or years now may be the time to get one. Your physician will be able to give you tips about self-care and coping with grief.
5. Put your story in writing. Many grief experts ask the bereaved to write their story in a journal, or poetry, or affirmations. Writing is therapeutic and the more you write the clearer your journey will become. You will identify problems and, more important, writing will lead you to solutions.
There is a moral to your grief story and it’s that you are in charge of you. Though you had no control over the plot of your story, you can create a happy ending. Don’t waste time waiting for the good fairy to come and help you recover from grief. The good fairy is here and it’s YOU.