I lost my Dad this week.
We were estranged for quite some time. But my response to finding out about his passing feels like grief. No matter what your relationship is with a parent, this is a real loss. Estrangement is more common than we think and sometimes that estrangement is based on boundaries you're trying to enforce to protect your wellbeing.
As a culture we don't really talk about it, like it's a bad thing. And while I certainly wish life wouldn't have turned that particular relationship into what it ended up being, we are all deserving of boundaries that enforce what we believe to be protective.
The feeling of loss based on lost relationships and what-should-have-beens is hard. The sudden end to all of those is jarring. And of course the beating drum of all the words that I'd been practicing in my head for years tends to be incredibly loud. Deafening, actually.
I've been sitting with it quietly over the past few days and I'm already feeling its impact in my body. It sucks. And it's sucking the strength reserves I have - which are few thanks to work, health, and just general mental health stuff- and draining them dry.
So to enforce a boundary on the impact this has on me, I hit the books. I figured it might be helpful for us to walk through the grief process together and get some tools in our tool belts to deal with grief from the physical perspective. Because grief has an immense impact on our bodies, just as much as on our minds and emotions.
Researching how I can get through this opened my eyes up to all the ways it harms us physically. Grief boosts inflammation in the body. And as we all know, inflammation exacerbates what already could be a red flag in all of your bodily systems.
There is literally an intense grief that can alter the muscle of the heart called "Broken Heart Syndrome" that has the same set of symptoms as a heart attack.
So how does grief, what we perceive to be a mental and emotional state of being, link to our physical selves? Through stress. Stress is the bridge that binds the two state together into one inflamed, depleted being.
Physical and emotional pain are triggered in the same area of the brain so we can be assured that when we are experiencing pain without a physical cause but know there is a mental cause, this is what we can look to help ourselves through it. Painkillers like Tylenol can even reduce pain caused by grief.
So how do we help ourselves through the trauma of grief, no matter the source?
Focus your food and supplements during this high-stress time to be anti-inflammatory and nutrient rich. It's important to deposit as many inflammation-fighters into your body's resources as possible during times of high-stress and trauma.
Cacao Turmeric Blend by Blume is a favorite for taking stress and inflammation down a few pegs. There’s a reason we call this blend ‘Moon Mylk.’ Destress, unwind and head straight to relaxation island. Turmeric soothes your body, and Ashwagandha calms your mind. Formulated to reduce stress, give your skin a natural glow and ease digestion.
Anti-Depression Techniques and Tools
Depression is a side-effect of grief and there are ways to help ourselves by easing our signs and symptoms of it. Think of grief like high-tide waves that catch us off guard whereas depression is the constant ebb and flow of the ocean.
It's important that when we are experiencing consistent sadness and not the sudden waves of sadness that accompany grief, that we get ourselves the help from foods, supplements, and even intervention from medical professionals. As someone who has dealt with treatment-resistant depression pretty much my entire life, it's really good and important to reach out for help from experts when you feel you've lost control over it.
To help with occasional bursts of sadness, it's nice to have mood-boosting herbs on hand to give yourself a life-vest to help you through your day. A few of my favorites are:
Blume Reishi Hot Cacao. Support your immune system and fight off the blues with this adaptogenic, mystic mushroom hot chocolate. Cacao supports the production of anandamide AKA "the bliss molecule", take a sip and find out why.
Apothekary Maca delivers not only adrenal support to reduce fatigue as you fight stress and sadness. It also provides a nice energy boost to help you do it all without depleting your reserves.
If you'd like to learn more about the role Adaptogens help with stress and occasional sadness, you can read more here.
During such a traumatic time, self-care is more important than ever. Exercise, eating a nutrient-rich diet, spending time in nature, are all important ways to help ourselves through the difficulty of grief. So too can massage, spending time with loved ones and friends and planning small, rewarding activities that you can enjoy.
Medical intervention is often not needed when experiencing normal symptoms of grief. So make yourself a priority. Up the ante on your self-care, pay attention to if you are slipping from grief to depression, and make space for yourself to grieve and work through it.
No matter the real or perceived closeness of the relationship you're grieving, you deserve to walk through it and process it. I want to thank the kind souls who have already lifted me up with their love and support. It means a lot to me.