Self-care has become a popular concept for maintaining a general sense of fulfillment and well being on a day-to-day basis. But sometimes in life, we are faced with circumstances outside of our normal, everyday stressors. Sometimes, we are afflicted unexpectedly with trauma or significant loss. These types of pains are so deep and so far reaching, regular self-care just isn’t enough to help us cope.
The type of restoration needed following a great loss is more about regaining trust and hope in a world that has just betrayed us at our deepest level. It is about redefining who we are in this new context, because with great loss comes great change.
It is a long and difficult journey. It is also a journey that is entirely unique to each individual circumstance. Through this we seek a type of comfort and assurance that is not simply superficial, but reaches as deeply as our pain. Deep comfort.
What is important in this endeavor toward deep comfort is that you seek what you need. We do ourselves a great disservice when we attempt to repress or deny our feelings. Emotional responses are great indicators of our needs that should be addressed. That doesn’t mean that we should allow them complete power and free rein over our lives. Or that we should indulge our pain in ways that harm instead of heal us. But we should allow our emotions space, expression, and tools to come to resolution, if we expect to live a wholly integrated life.
After significant loss, there are many months, sometimes years of grief following. During this period, many find it difficult to accept healing or restoration and function only in a state of survival. But eventually, we are forced to return to some sense of normalcy in our every day lives. Though even as we come out of the shock of our loss, the pain can still be very real and very present in our lives for many years following.
It is at this point we find the need for deep comfort, which goes beyond regular self-care. Deep comfort is the deliberate search and attainment of anything that brings to you your own sense of restoration or that returns a sense of familiar stability in your everyday life.
What sorts of things or activities bring you deep comfort? The type of comfort that reaches way down, into the core of what is unique about you. This might directly involve the grief you experienced, taking the form of revisiting old places or old things related to a loved one you lost, or it might be only about you rediscovering parts of yourself that had been put on hold or forgotten entirely in the course of your loss.
Maybe it is taking up an old hobby or learning a new one. Maybe it is getting up early every morning to watch the sunrise. Maybe it is listening to the same song over and over for a while, or journaling without restriction on your controversial feelings.
You might find it helpful to collect items that are significant to you and place them on display somewhere you see them everyday. A shrine, of sorts, this little collection might include a book or a poem that brings you joy, a textured piece of fabric that you love, or a little statue or trinket that you somehow identify with.
Through seeking items and experiences of deep comfort, you are restoring some sense of peace within yourself. You are honoring the need for wholeness where your loss has left you incomplete. You are strengthening your identity outside of your loss and giving yourself hope for a future.
It is important to note this process in no way diminishes the significance of your loss or of your grief. After losing someone you love, it is common to feel guilty about your own life moving forward. A journey toward healing through deep comfort does not mean forgetting or denying your loss. It is about finding a way to exist within this new context, as the significance of it has deeply changed your life.