The first week of November is typically a festive week for most people – as they are settling down from their candy rush from Halloween and transitioning into the Thanksgiving season (or even putting up their Christmas trees). But, for me, this week brings a lot of heavy feelings and memories. My mom passed away four years ago on November 2nd, which fittingly, is also All Souls’ Day for those who practice christian religions. All Souls’ Day is a day to commemorate the souls of the departed and to honor the deceased. This day brings up a lot of anxiety for me because it’s still hard for me to accept the fact my mom is no longer here, even after four years of not having her around.
Throughout the last four years, I graduated college, started my first full-time job, rented my first house on my own, and achieved other early adult milestones that in the past, I couldn’t have imagined celebrating without her. So on November 2nd, every year, I like to visit her gravestone and catch her up on the latest “Caroline News.” In preparation for this day, I felt my body physically and mentally go through all the stages of grief at once all over again. And that’s really hard for me.
I like to think of myself as “mentally strong” and “resilient” when it comes to coping with grief and that can become a toxic mindset for me, primarily used as a scapegoat to avoid my true emotions. This year, I finally gave myself permission to deeply feel all my feelings and reactions as they come – which is difficult because it’s uncomfortable! Each day of the week I made sure to prioritize a few self-care practices to help ease into feeling these feelings.
Here are three self-care practices I leaned into this week to allow myself to fully feel and reflect on my emotions and grief.
1. Engaged in conversation out loud with trusted loved-ones
It is challenging for me to talk out loud and in person when I feel like I am on the verge of crying. My coping mechanism is remaining silent so the tears won’t pour out of my eyes with each word. This week, I actively engaged in conversation with loved-ones in my life to talk about pleasant memories of my mom even through the waterworks. This was absolutely cathartic for me.
2. Ate comfort meals that reminded me of her
My mom used to take me on “mother daughter dates” to Panera when I was younger. This week, I treated myself to some French Onion Soup and Caesar Salad for the first time in a long time! When I experience anxiety, it is easy for me to go all day without remembering to eat. This week, I prioritized meal planning comfort foods that my mom used to cook that not only nourished my body but brought me a sense of nostalgia.
3. Spent time in nature
There are two places where I feel closest to my mom, walking in the woods and swinging on the swings. This week, I took a walk to the swings at a playground near my house and allowed myself to breathe, feel the wind on my face, and experience the nature around me. I felt at peace.
My affirmation for the week: I give myself permission to feel the fullest extent of my emotions without limitations.