Guest Post: Grief and Sleep: 4 Ways To Get Back To Sleep After A Painful Loss by Sara Bailey

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to Sara Bailey. She, like me, has recently gone through a painful loss. Her loss was her husband.She approached me about writing a piece for my blog and I gratefully agreed. As you may know, I just wrote a book about the loss of my precious daughter entitled Finding Hope In The Darkness Of Grief. Sara, too, is in the process of writing a book about her experience.

Loss is very difficult. And so is being able to relax and move on. So, without further adieu, here is Sara's article. I hope you enjoy it!

Recovering from the loss of a spouse or a partner is a long — and often lonely — journey. Regardless of how much support you have, there will be times you have to face the grief alone, and night time is one of them. Loss of sleep is one of the most natural — and also frustrating — symptoms of grief. While trouble sleeping in the first few days or even weeks is very common, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your sleep to your grief. Here are a few tips to help you ease the ache of sleepless nights.

Meditate to Let Go of Ruminative Thoughts

Studies show that some of our most powerfully negative and painful thoughts creep in at night. We don’t have the business of work, family, school, or other responsibilities to distract our minds like we do during the day. The grief, anxiety, anger, and sadness — plus bittersweet memories — often hit us the hardest at night. Meditation is one way you can practice letting go of those thoughts. Plus, the work you do focusing on your breath and muscles can also help ease your body into sleep. There are several different kinds of meditation you can try. In guided meditation, a narrator guides your mind through a journey to a state of mind you’d like to achieve or a goal you want to accomplish. You could also try a progressive muscle relaxation meditation where you tense and then relax each muscle in your body, slowly and methodically, from your head to your toes to help bring you comfort.

Renovate Your Bedroom for New Memories

Your bedroom may hold memories of your partner that keep you up at night. Memories are powerful ways to keep our lost loved ones alive, but they can also keep us stuck, blocking us from moving through the pain. Consider a bedroom remake to help you feel like you are in a new space. Start with your bed, especially if your mattress is older and needs replacing anyway. You can save time and money by purchasing a mattress online instead of in a store, which usually comes with a generous trial period so you can make sure you’ve made the right choice. Once you’ve chosen a new mattress and bedframe, you can paint the walls a new color — soothing blues and greens work wonders for sleep — and hang a few blackout curtains, which will keep excess light out, signaling to your body it’s time to rest.

Start a Regular Exercise Schedule

Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day will make a major impact in the quality of your sleep. Physiologically, your body needs sleep to recover and rebuild, and exercise further encourages that process. Your mind and body will need to spend more time sleeping and will require better quality sleep. On top of that, research has shown that exercise is a positive coping mechanism for managing stress, anxiety, and depression — three emotions you are likely to feel as you move through the stages of grief. The endorphin surge and physical exhaustion you feel when you exercise is an unmatched mind-body boost.

Get Gadgets (Not Gimmicks!)

In a world that emphasizes immediate gratification, there are a lot of gimmicks out there that will try to “guarantee” you better sleep. Trust your intuition and approach these get-sleep-quick gadgets with caution. Be sure to look for sleep-aiding technology that is reviewed and approved by sleep professionals and organizations with solid reputations. For example, the Aura is a sleep tracker that offers light therapy, sleep programs, and wake-up programs. If you purchase sleep tech, be sure it comes with a trial period or a money-back guarantee so you don’t waste your hard-earned cash on a product that’s not right for you.

There is no set timeline for mourning; taking it slowly might seem frustrating, but it could also be a better long-term solution. You can build back a regular sleeping pattern over time if you take it slow, plan for sleep with intention, and focus on mind and body.

If you enjoyed Sara's post, you can find her at http://thewidow.net/

Thanks for taking a moment to stop on my blog.  Have a blessed day!

Freedom Comes After Decimation

Freedom. A word that we love. Personal freedom, financial freedom, business freedom. And of course, historical freedom. I come from America, the land of the free. The idea of freedom is hypnotizing. But freedom comes at a price. In order to be free, we have to be decimated: decimated on a personal level. For some of us that means financial decimation. For others that means mental decimation. For many that means decimation on all levels. Those are the people who really end up experiencing freedom.

I define decimation as being ground to a pulp; as being brought to a state of complete questioning; being in a state of total disrepair. People who are decimated are people who's preconceived notions have been ground to fine powder; people whose assumptions and ideals have been challenged to a point where they are no longer sure of what's true and real. Those are the people who are forced to look around and see the world anew-to understand that they know nothing of truth and that freedom comes only from learning the truth.

Many times we think we know what freedom is-until we are decimated.  Then we pick ourselves up from the dust and rubble and realize we really didn't even know what we were talking about in the first place.  True freedom isn't money, power and prestige.  True freedom isn't winning at the sake of causing others to lose.  True freedom is peace and happiness.  How many of us can say we are truly happy?  Most of us believe happiness hinges on what happens in our lives day to day.  That couldn't be farther from the truth.  Happiness is a peace-an internal knowing of truth-on the inside of us that doesn't change with the tide of life. It's knowing who we really are, where we came from, what we are here to do-and being okay with that-despite who and what is happening around us.   It's our purpose, our mission, our true selves hiding beneath the flesh and bones of our bodies.  It's our eternal identities.

Our nation was decimated by war before we became free. And now as we look around, we see that once again we are being ground into fine power to awaken from the lies surrounding us to seek freedom again. We've lost ground-we've forgotten how much we had to lose to gain what we sought so readily. We've forgotten who we really are.  So now we're being forced to lose what we thought we had gained in order to learn how to acquire what we all want and need with renewed vision.  In all honesty, if we could wake up again and call ourselves 'one nation under God' we'd be accomplishing a lot.  Oneness is part of freedom as is our eternal truth. This knowledge is part of the life learning process in coming to grips with what freedom really means.  Unfortunately it seems life runs in circles. Cycles of loss and gain.  Being ground into a fine powder to destroy assumptions, prejudices and preconceived notions is a way of coming to freedom and truth. We are all born, live lives that teach us truth and then we graduate to heaven to see what this earth has really taught us. How do we learn? Hardship and pain.

Do you feel like you've been ground into fine powder? That you don't know who you are anymore or what the truth is versus the lies? If you do you're in good company. It's common to all of us humans on this planet. When you find yourself in this situation, try to find peace with it. Try to be grateful for the lessons you're learning. Because if you meet these processes head on and refuse to become bitter, you will eventually find freedom-the freedom and truth you need. Remember: some of the greatest people who lived had to fight the hardest and had to lose darned near everything in order to gain what they really needed to learn. Never give up and never lose hope!

Echoes

 

Before you left, You told me Everything: All your pain, And your regrets. I found it strange- The sudden openness Between us, But I didn't consider The ramifications; Until I found Your lifeless body In your apartment. Suddenly the world Came crashing in As I remembered Your haunting words. You knew you'd soon Be leaving me forever And I refused To believe it. Now I'm sentenced To the silence You left behind; And your words That once fell Upon my deaf ears Will echo in my mind Until I too Leave this earth To search for you In eternity.

Dedicated to my daughter who passed last November. I love you, Celby. Please forgive me.

Celby

The pain is so deep- Every time I have a memory, Every time I hear a song you loved, Every perfect picture waiting to be taken, Causes bitter tears of grief to awaken My broken heart again.

Everywhere I go- Everyone I meet, people who I talk to, Remind me of you and your beauty; I miss your caring heart, your giving aura of love; You were so much more than the average person Could have ever hoped to be.

My soulmate- We dreamed together, had grand plans, We laughed about silly things, Fought about even sillier things, Then hugged and reconciled, Knowing our love was one quite rare.

My daughter, my baby- My best friend; I raised you to be loving, understanding, A light in the darkness. How could God snuff out Someone so incredibly beautiful at such a tender age?

How could He allow it- When your presence changed lives And your perspective made everything better? Your glow could be felt by everyone who knew you; You made things make sense, you brought life into situations; You were a constant help to those in need.

I miss you, Celby. I always will- Until God has me take my last breath on this earth, Nothing will ever be the same again. The beauty you left behind is agonizing, The purpose you gave us torturous Because you were ripped from us without even so much

As an explanation.

It Wasn't Her

I saw her in the casket, lying peacefully, wearing the animal print dress she had wanted so badly four years before. We had walked around the store and she followed me, crying, wailing uncharacteristically, for me to buy her the dress. "Why are you acting like this?" I was irritated. I was so irritated, in fact, that I felt like flinging her across the aisles.

"I want this dress!" she wailed.

"You never act this way. You're a good kid. Calm. Peaceful. The total opposite of your sister. But now? You're acting like a monster! I already have $400.00 worth of clothes in this cart for you both. I can't afford any more. These prices are outrageous! This is why I buy everything at Goodwill!" I stared at her, beyond frustrated.

She insisted on getting the dress. Of course, I caved.

My younger daughter was the peaceful one of my two kids. She was the easygoing one. The one who gave loving advice and huge bear hugs. The one who told everyone that everything would be okay.

Now I was staring at her lifeless body, her cold, hard shell lying in a casket lined with pink satin fabric-her favorite color. The body of my beloved child adorned with the animal print dress she had pined over in the store four years ago.

*****************************************************************************

We were standing in my younger daughter’s room a few days before.   My older daughter held the animal print dress.  “We have to put it on her, mom,” my older daughter insisted through tears and whimpering. “You know how much she loved it.  It’s what she would have wanted.”

“I know.  Do you remember how she freaked out about that dress when I bought it?” I wiped my eyes, wanting to join my younger daughter in her casket.

"Yes."

We both broke down. It was inconceivable that she had been yanked from us. Our best friend, our confidant, our love.

We carefully picked out jewelry to match.

"She'll be beautiful," my older daughter said. "Just like she'd want to be."

********************************************************************************

How will I live without you, Bubby Girl?  I can't do this.

I went to her, kneeling in front of the casket. I put my hands over hers, placing one of my best rings on her fingers.

You were with me when I picked this out.  My promise ring to God.  Now it's yours.

I stared at her face.  That beautiful, angelic face with the pouting lower lip.  Her hair had recently been dyed red.  It looked good on her, falling in soft curls around her cheeks and over her shoulders.

I want to be with you.  

I had been through this before.  I knew all about God and spirits, angels and heaven.  I just didn't want to acknowledge the pain.  It was then that I heard her voice.

"I'm not in that casket mom.  I'm still with you."

I felt the familiar salty tears fall from my eyes, down my cheeks and into my mouth as I wept.

I know.  I just miss you.  So much.  Every second of every day.

I stared at her, laying my head on the chest of her icy cold body.  I smelled formaldehyde.

"That's not me anymore, mom.  Remember.  Now I can always be with you."

In immense pain, I ran my fingers through her hair, hating the smell and the coldness of her body.

You're right.  It's not you anymore.  But I still love you and I always will.  You'll always be my baby.

I stayed with her a while more as the funeral director closed the doors to the people watching behind me.

I love you, Bubby Girl.  Stay with me forever.  Help me to keep writing and show me how to take pictures like you did.

"I will, Mommy.  I promise."

Never stop calling me Mommy.  I love how you call me that.

"I won't, Mommy.  Try to be happy.  Because I'm happy now."

I ran my hands over her fingers, those beautiful curved fingers that I used to hold in mine.  I got up and told the funeral director he could shut the casket.  As he did, I knew that my time with my baby wasn't over.  It was just beginning.

 

 

You Are My Bridge

 

You are my bridge. My bridge to love and light.

You are my hope. The hope of my destiny.

You are my dream. The dream of success which you carried for me.

You are my safety. The safety of love and acceptance you gave me.

view-of-bridge-through-forest-trees-pic-with-copyright-on-it

Remember me. As your mother, the one who cherished you.

Remember me. As your friend who valued your opinion.

Remember me. The broken one who needed your tenderness.

Remember me. The vessel you poured your light into.

 

I miss you. The days of laughter and content.

I adore you. Your sparks of humor and helpfulness.

I remember you. My little angel with a bright future.

I hold tight to you. Your memory of rainbows and sunbeams.

 

I admire you. You lived with a rare condition.

You have great strength. Despite the bullies and false friends.

Though you were different. You were a shining example.

You are an original. Truly one among millions.

 

Your favorite color. Pink like the passionate sunrise.

Your shining eyes. Deep blue like God's heavens.

Your wavy hair. Red, brown, blonde and gold; a mane of beauty.

Your pouting lower lip. The most beautiful smile of caring.

 

Your creative tendencies. To make art and take pictures.

Your quirky side. To tie tight knots and laugh heartily.

Your passion. To love life despite letdowns.

Your imagination. To know angels and possibilities.

 

You are beautiful. Though you didn't believe it.

You are precious. Though you couldn't see it.

You are worthy. Though you didn't realize it.

You are amazing. Though you felt ordinary.

 

Let me see you. When my heart aches to be with you.

Hold me close. In the times that I'm hurting.

Give me love. Throw your soft arms around me.

Kiss my cheek. So I know you are near me.

 

You are perfect. Fun sized and abundant.

You are tender. Hugging me with your mercy.

You are gentle. Forgiving and helpful.

You are gorgeous. My baby, my angel incarnate.

 

God Bless you Celby. I'll write for you for the rest of my life. I can't wait to run into your arms the moment I take my last breath here on earth. Wait for me. Meet me and bring me home.

 

Death

death-poem-picture-by-diamante-lavendar You think life is forever, At least that's how it seems; Death is just a shadow In your deepest, darkest dreams.

We don't want to admit it, Or dwell upon the pain, But death is waiting for us In its own destined time frame.

Death will come and take you No matter what you say; Your time to leave's appointed In your designated way.

So don't try to deny it Or refuse to believe it's true; Live your life with purpose Until death comes for you.

-Diamante Lavendar

Please Do Not Weep

I wrote this poem to begin my novel entitled Breaking The Silence. This poem is a summation, in essence, of my book:  

Do not fret For your grievous loss;

Do not feel Like a wave that is tossed;

Do not weep By yourself, so alone;

For I am with you, Soon you will be Home.

The things of this world Are transient and brief;

I will be your comfort, Your ease and your peace;

Notice the good And perceive not the bad;

Observe what you've learned, The lessons you've had;

For everything you've been through Has come at a cost;

There is good in the bad, You have won and not lost.

I have set you here, love, And you shall I keep;

Do not lose hope, And please do not weep.

-Diamante Lavendar (from my novel, Breaking The Silence).