The long dark months of winter can be challenging for anyone. And, for those who mourn, they can be especially hard. Midwest winters mean night creeps in through the edges of overcast days. Some days it can be so grey and dreary that if seems as is dusk has lasted all day long.
These dark conditions can feel isolating and tiresome during times of loss. They can be hard to navigate. And, the winter months can test your sense of resilience, hardiness and persistence.
If loss is part of your current situation, there are things you can do to support yourself during these dark midwinter days. Here are some strategies to consider:
Healthy eating: winter can feel like a time to wrap yourself in comfort foods; macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken and dumplings and other carb-laden favorites come to mind. While these foods may be tempting, you can choose to pair them with fresh produce selections that are delicious and healthy too. Salads, vegetable soups and fresh fruits such as grapefruit and oranges can replenish your taste buds while serving as a healthy offset to the comfort foods you crave. Challenge yourself to eat healthy by mixing and matching comfort foods with healthy sides.
Exercise: the winter months draw us all indoors more. Staying physically active can feel counterintuitive – and may be a challenge when the weather is very cold or icy. Still, finding ways to get moving can also pump up your self-confidence, help you stay healthy and move the stuck feelings grief can cause. Find an exercise buddy who can support your commitment to keep moving and perhaps offer a listening ear when the mourning gets tough. (Remember, exercise doesn’t have to cost anything – you may try walking indoors at a mall or outdoors when weather permits!)
Creative outlets: One way to tap into and nurture your resilience is through getting creative. You might find that long evenings call for tackling projects such as knitting, quilting or crafting. Perhaps you have a piece of furniture you’ve always wanted to refinish or restore. Maybe you’ve always wanted to crochet, sing in a choir or take lessons on a ukulele – the winter season is a good time to try something new. Dipping your toe in the waters of your own creativity is a way to reconnect with yourself as well as meet new people who share similar interests.
Seek out a support group: Check with your church, funeral home or area hospital to find a grief support group that can encourage your grief journey. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. And, support groups usually include other people experiencing grief, too. They can offer insight, ideas and strategies that have worked for them. A support group can offer you a safe place to explore your loss and begin to find healing.
Experiencing life’s losses can be hard. And you can use this time to reflect, renew your spirit, rest, make healthy choices and discover your own resilience. Mourning means that you have special needs – and within those needs are opportunities to be supported by others, learn new things about yourself or simply muddle through giving yourself the best care and kindness you can.
Deb Brandt is a certified funeral celebrant, certified creative grief practitioner and professional writer. She works virtually and in-person with individuals and families as they tell their stories of grief and loss. Deb co-authored The Hollowed Heart; Inspiration for Women Awakening from Grief and Loss. You can learn more about Deb and her services at www.growingbeyondgrief.com or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org