I was so inspired by the Smartless podcast episode with Michael Lewis that I listened to today that I decided to share with you some of the thoughts that came to mind. He discussed some things about the death of his 19-year-old daughter that really resonated with me and outlined the similarities of losing your child at any age. I was so struck by the beautiful stories he told about it but the one thing that stood out to me was when he referred to the following year or so after her death felt like this:
Brain fog and exhaustion after a loved one's death is your brain's way of working on re-writing the future without them in it.
Boom. That statement rang so true for me and it is a feeling I believe any loss parent or anyone who has lost someone significant, can identify with. In the event of a pregnancy loss or stillbirth, the dream factor goes into overdrive the moment you find out you're pregnant. The news of a loss certainly launches you into a state of shock and your brain is trying to make sense of it all for you. The extreme tiredness and brain fog are your body's way of telling you to slow down and take some time to heal and process this news. It takes a while for it to be able to re-write a future without someone in it, no matter how long you have known the person, and the timeline for everyone is very different.
I remember this fog well and it would come and go for quite a period of time after the loss of my twins. I still struggle with it whenever there is a big life shift for me and I go back to that feeling of being out of control again and need to remind myself that I just need time to process. I believe it must be some sort of PTSD- like response because I can access that feeling of loss, panic, and hopelessness periodically when big things come up.
I have always been a pretty organized person but in times of overwhelm I find it more comforting and almost necessary to help me get back on track again. Here are some of the things that are most helpful to me when I start to feel it happening and if you are in a new state of grief these things may also be helpful to you.
Clean out your purse. I know...it doesn't seem too profound does it? But I swear if you are looking for a small place to start this is the place. You are likely to have shoved your insurance cards and ID in without putting them back in your wallet, or maybe a credit card if you had to stop at the pharmacy and the typical receipts and hospital discharge paperwork...possibly just purging any of those things that aren't needed anymore might help make you feel better if they are still lurking around. It is a great 1st step and often spurs me on to clean out another small area that's been bothering me.
Create your to-do list for the next day before you go to bed. One note though- be reasonable. This has been a lifesaver for me since I would tend to do it in the morning and all kinds of distractions start to creep in. It is much easier to wake up to a list that is already prioritized with the most important things listed out, but not if there are so many items that it makes you feel overwhelmed before you even get out of bed! Choose 3-5 things that are doable and things you can do in the morning while you're fresh before the brain fog starts rolling in.
Meal Planning- You may not feel like cooking and probably no one is expecting you to but you still need to eat and it is necessary for healing and keeping your energy up. I like to make a "menu" on the notes app on my phone of some easy items I already have on hand in the house and it takes so much guesswork out of meals and you can choose from the list anything that sounds good to you at any time.
4. Use a calendar-if this isn't something you aren't in the habit of doing yet, now is the time! I love Google calendar because you can color code it and share it with anyone you would like to. It has made all the difference in making sure I am where I am supposed to be and because I can share it with my husband so he also can help me keep on track. If the paper kind is more your jam- that's perfect too! It too can be color-coded with some fancy pens and highlighters that are inexpensive and the options for planners are endless. Whatever way you choose consider getting one in motion today and get the things just for this week written in. See if it can't get you in a better frame of mind to plan your time and get some things done that you've been putting off because of all the noisy distractions in your life.
5. Watch a Netflix Series on Organization- This last one might sound silly but in my brain organization=peace, so to me when I feel stressed out or overwhelmed I love to binge watch some organization shows to get inspiration. A couple of my faves are Marie Kondo and Home Edit. I guess it is sort of cathartic or symbolic to me that
when there is peace in my surroundings, there is peace in my mind and heart.
There is so much that is out of our control no matter what season of life we are going through, but there are small things we can do to make us feel like we can take back control. I hope you feel inspired to take on one of these ideas today and I would love for you to comment and let me know which one it is and how it made you feel. No matter what stage you are in or how long it has been since your loss, the kindest thing you can do is honor your well-being and only you know what that means for you. We all have different timelines and different ways to process things that are happening so be sure you are taking care of yourself first.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help you get back on the road to recovery after the loss of your pregnancy or a stillbirth you can download my free e-book "10 Questions You Ask Yourself When You Lose Your Baby" that tells my story and gives you ideas of how to start the healing process in a healthy way or visit my website at jennifersenn.com. I am a Pregnancy Loss Recovery Coach who specializes in helping women and their families heal from the loss of their babies due to pregnancy loss or stillbirth in a way that honors them as well as their babies.