Stress Management

Recovering from Grief and Loss During Lockdown

Being in lockdown has been tough on my little boys. They’re missing their friends, they don’t understand why we’re not doing their usual activities of swimming and bush play and the video calls to family aren’t cutting the mustard anymore.

So everyday we try to get the boys out of the house for exercise as it’s one of the few reasonable excuses we can leave the house. Today we decided to fly a kite for the first time. We were probably outside for no more than half an hour before the dark clouds began to pour and the wind picked up so the friendly kite soon became a weapon hell bent in poking our eyes out.

As we jumped back in the car to head home, JohnnyMax started speaking to his granda out the window. He was asking granda to create a sunny day for him, with a little bit of wind but no rain. You see, his granda passed away less than a week ago. It was a heartwarming thing to hear and hubby and I sat in silence just smiling.

When it comes to grief, there is no timeline for it to end.

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

When I read this I thought it was a beautiful way of looking at grief as love. But what happens when grief and loss becomes unbearable. We know that people can die from a broken heart. There is a scientific name for it and it’s called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome. When we are challenged by grief and loss, our heart responds accordingly. When the impact is too much, it can weaken the heart.

“Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”

The irony in this is that love is what heals the heart too. Did you know that other than your brain, you have little brains all over your body and that includes your heart? Your heart has neurons and is often referred to as the heart-brain.

The significance of this connection is your thoughts have a profound impact on your heart’s biology. In our grief and loss, it’s important to be around people we love because as social creatures, it’s how we heal. It’s particularly hard for my hubby because all he wants to do is fly to Ireland, to be surrounded by his father’s friends hearing funny stories of him and remember all the happy memories in the embrace of his family.

We don’t know exactly how but what we know is that when we flood our body with oxytocin (the love hormone) it has a healing effect on the heart. This is how the heart recovers. 

Recovering from grief and loss during lockdown is challenging but taking small steps to work towards building on healthy habits can help by:

  • Cooking yourself a nourishing meal no matter how simple it is like avocado on toast with a poached egg
  • Moving your body for 30 minutes like dancing to your favourite song or doing gentle yoga stretches
  • Prioritising sleep and setting a bedtime alarm to help you wind down
  • Following a routine and structure even if it’s just making your bed
  • Making time to video call family and friends

One thing I’ve witnessed that’s helped my hubby being so far from home is being in a Whatsapp group with all his father’s family and friends who are sharing untold stories and lost photos. For more support, download my free stress audit.

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