Grief and Feeling Overwhelmed

Grief, in and of itself, is overwhelming. It is a massive change in your life, and it doesn’t make sense to your head or your heart. Plus, you are trying to manage the daily activities in your life. When we’re grieving managing all of that can seem impossible. In this video I talk about the one thing you need to do to manage the overwhelm when you are grieving.

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Grief, in and of Itself, is overwhelming

The very first thing to understand is that grief, in and of itself, is overwhelming. It is a massive change in your life. It doesn’t make sense to your head or your heart, but you keep trying to make sense of it and you can’t. In time you may be able to, but not in the early stages of grief. 

Plus, You are trying to manage the daily activities in your life.

The second thing to know is that on top of that you still have your normal daily activities. You’re trying to go back to work. You’re taking care of kids. You’re still a caregiver for parents or you’re dealing with legal and financial issues. 

There are always other demands on us.  They may feel overwhelming under the best of circumstances. 

When we’re grieving they can seem impossible.

We’re also all dealing with COVID, which is overwhelming to everyone.

Right now, we’re also all dealing with COVID, which is overwhelming to everyone. Let’s be honest. You don’t have to be grieving to feel overwhelmed by COVID. So that is still in the mix for everyone.

How do you know overwhelm is the issue? EVERYTHING feels urgent.

You know you’re feeling overwhelmed when everything starts feeling urgent. Everything feels like it needs to be done right now. You feel like you need to do something about it and you need to do it now. You’re out of breath most of the time. Your breathing may be very shallow at this point (we’ll talk about that in another video). It’s that sense of urgency, everything needs to change right now is when you know overwhelm has become an issue.

So what do you do? The first thing you need to do is to stop…JUST STOP.

The first thing you need to do if you are feeling overwhelmed is to stop. Just stop! Take a day off. Take an hour off. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Read a book if you’re able to concentrate (kind of dicey in the first few months, but some people can). Take some time to stop trying to push through all the stuff that feels so urgent. Stop until you can gain some clarity on what really needs doing and what doesn’t.

Give yourself a break.

It’s important to give yourself a break. It’s part of taking good care of yourself when you’re grieving. If you can take more than a day off, I would recommend it. Take some time to simply be. And once you have calmed down and had a chance to rest, you can look at what needs to be done. 

You don’t have the bandwidth to do everything.

Even in our daily lives we often don’t have the bandwidth to do everything we think we should. When we’re grieving we definitely don’t have the bandwidth. None of us do. So feeling overwhelmed can be a reality check. It’s telling you you can’t possibly do all that you would normally do in your life. You just can’t, at least not right now. It’ll come back. But right now the grief is so big that it takes most of our energy, and none of us have the bandwidth for much else. 

Set your priorities. 

Trying to deal with the kids and work and parents and grocery shopping and all the details of daily life, is more than we can handle. It’s more than most people can handle at this point. So it’s important to set priorities. 

Step back from it a little bit until you can get some perspective.  

Then figure out what is a priority and what isn’t. What isn’t so important you can put on the back burner. If it needs doing, it will still be there. You can pick it up later if you need to. 

One thing on any given day.

Here’s what I learned the last time I was grieving. I kept tried to push through, push through, push through, push through, and I couldn’t. I finally collapsed under it and realized I was doing well if I could do one thing on any given day. One thing. Even then I couldn’t always do it. 

When I work with clients, I see the same thing. They don’t have it in them to do more than that one thing on any given day. Sometimes they’re not even going to get that done, and that’s okay. 

Stop and rest.

Set one goal for the day but if you need to stop and rest, do it. When you start feeling that urgency again, take a breath and go for a walk. Then come back and address your goal for the day. 

No shame, no blame.

This does not make you a bad person. So many people feel like if they can’t do it all, there’s something wrong with them. This is often true under the best of circumstances. When you’re grieving you do not have it in you to function at peak capacity. 

In time you’ll be able to, and you can add more than one thing to your agenda for the day. But right now, give yourself a break, be gentle with yourself and stop when you need to stop. Stop trying to push through this pile of things that need doing and focus on one thing at a time. 

If you can do it, I encourage you to try. It will make things so much easier. It will decrease the stress involved in trying to deal with such a massive loss in your life. 

Let me know how it’s going in the comments below, on YouTube, on Facebook or wherever you are watching.

Take good care of yourself.

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