When you are broken by the death of someone you love, finding the time to look after yourself is essential. But it 's not always easy. The weight of emotion on top of lists of practical details to deal with, can leave you struggling to get through the day, let alone carve out time for yourself.
This is why we created our Self-Care Sympathy Gift Collection with a blend of aromatherapy oils to comfort the mind and soothe the body, gently encouraging the recipient to take time to focus on their own needs, at a time when they may feel overwhelmed by the needs of others.
However, we are also mindful that not all nurturing comes wrapped up in a pretty gift box and there are many ways to find comfort and direction after a loss. Here, five women explain the different ways in which they looked after themselves through the difficult early days of bereavement.
Actor Holly Matthews, a self-development coach and founder of The Happy Me Project, at first struggled to see what her future would look like after her husband Ross’s death in 2017.
‘At 32, I was left as a single mum and widow, unsure of my next steps. I knew I needed to be kind to myself but also that I needed to be there for my two daughters, who were six and four.
Setting boundaries was the biggest self-care mechanism for me. I became ruthless with who and what I let into my world. I stopped watching the news and was mindful about what I followed on social media.
I also opened myself to learning. Ross dying turned my world on its head and made me question everything I thought I knew.
I channelled pain into creative endeavours, setting up The Happy Me Project which is a movement of no-nonsense self-development. Turning my pain into power helped me to heal.’
Be kind to yourself
Kathryn Dunn, of Intuitive Hypnotherapy, is working her way through the grief of her mum’s death earlier this year.
‘My mum was my biggest cheerleader and best friend, and her death left me with a huge hole in my life and feeling that I had no one to talk to.
Drawing from my cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy training, I let my feelings come, allowing myself to feel everything, until the emotions passed.
Being kind to myself and not rushing to get everything done also helped.
I would just choose one task each day, such as registering the death or contacting relatives and friends, and then, just sit and allow myself to watch TV until I was ready to do something else.
Now, I am slowly reintroducing activities, old and new, and shaping my life for a different future.’
Focus on nourishment and try journaling
Katie Ford, a vet who now runs Vet Empowered for animal health professionals, learnt the power of self-care when her dad died.
‘After my dad died suddenly in 2021, time just seemed to stop for weeks. Everything that had seemed pressing and relevant suddenly didn’t matter.
Some of my friends kindly sent some prepared meals and some easy meal kits. I didn’t want to cook, but soon saw how much difference nutritious food made to me and helped me to cope with things.
I also found journaling a really useful tool to give myself space and time to process how I actually felt.’
Consider support through therapy
Jo Howarth, founder of The Happiness Club, found solace in therapy.
‘When I was 25 my dad passed away very suddenly from a heart attack.
Feeling completely lost, it made me question pretty much everything. I didn't want to waste any more time idling through life, but I also had no idea how I wanted my life to be.
Starting therapy changed everything. It helped me define what I wanted my future to look like and how I wanted to be as a person, and it helped me deal with the waves of grief for my dad.
It led to me training to become an advanced hypnotherapist and mindfulness expert to help others, and I continue to have therapy today when I feel I need it.’
Find solace in mindful gardening
Kendall Platt, who runs a floristry and gardening business, Adventures with Flowers felt like she was ‘wading through treacle’ after her dad’s death.
‘I’d watched my dad’s health decline until he died earlier this year, leaving me feeling totally adrift. I was forgetful, lethargic and felt like I was wading through treacle.
When my friend Nick had died from cancer nine years earlier, I suffered with crippling panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety. So, after dad’s death, I knew how crucial it was to quieten my mind and let my painful feelings out.
I found solace in my garden. Weeding, pruning and tending to my plants allowed me the time and headspace to process my feelings. It allowed them to move through my body rather than getting stuck.’