My mother had a saying and used it often: The good fairy isn’t coming. This saying applied to many aspects of life. She would say it before starting 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 fairy 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 in life, and worried about the future. Worse, you think you’ll never be happy again. As someone who has survived 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 to 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? You will need support and help in order to create a new life. If you haven’t checked your support system lately, now is the time to shore it up. You will find that many people are ready and willing to help you.
3. Practice self-care. At this challenging time of life it’s easy to eat on the run or rely on fast food. Nutritional, balanced meals are brain food and can improve your mood. Try to get enough sleep, at least seven hours a night. Meditation may also help you take care of yoursef.
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 physcal exam in months or years, get one now. 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, poetry, or affirmations. Writing is therapeutic and the more you write the clearer your journey will become. You will identify problems and, more important, regular 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, you can give your story a happending 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.