I thought I was losing my mind after my Pop’s died.
I began to think the dementia that finally ravaged his brain, was about to do the same to mine.
I couldn’t think straight, literally.
My short-term memory was shot.
Which sent me down the Google rabbit-hole where I found helpful articles that explain how grief is not just processed emotionally and spiritually; it’s processed physically as well.
Lightbulb moment; that makes total fucking sense, I thought!
I didn’t question my sanity after that.
Instead, I got really intentional about taking care of myself and my grief.
POST-PHYSICAL GRIEF REVELATION
What unfolded after that has been interesting because grief became the ultimate permission-giver to say “no”.
Because grief left me feeling depleted of almost everything – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically – I gave zero f*cks in life.
With not much left in my tank – if you’re not my husband, daughter, or client – I rarely have anything left over to give.
Protecting my energy has become a full-time job.
It’s made me say “no” to just about everything outside of my family, house, and work.
It’s made me say “yes” to everything that helps my world feel, well, soft and not so dreary.
And, damn, it feels so good.
Which makes me question –
Why did grief have to give me the permission to say “no” to whatever I wanted to say “no” to?
Why couldn’t I have those boundaries without having to lose my favorite person in the whole world?
GRIEF – THE ULTIMATE PERMISSION GIVER
So, what does that actually look like?
You know, saying “no” when you want to and saying “yes” when you want to.
Being all congruent and aligned in life.
If it’s hard for you to place boundaries or say “no” when all you do is say “yes” – here are some examples of how I laid the grief/boundary smackdown.
- Listen to your body. Bloody hell, if you’re tired, be tired.
Your grief body needs all the help it can get. Reschedule, cancel, leave the party, get in bed while the sun’s still up to tend to your tired.
I went to Scottsdale, AZ for a business trip and stayed in this magnificent, swanky-ass resort. After the conference, I passed out at 6:30pm and never really took in the beautiful place we were in.
That’s more than okay. I woke up refreshed and my body and brain were happy I did just that.
- Be brutally honest with yourself and others.
Now that I know tending to my grief-self is #1 priority for me, I have very uncomfortable conversations with family, friends and even strangers.
I decline gatherings and invitations constantly (including holidays, birthdays and celebrations), or give the caveat I may not stay too long and tell people up front: In my grief process, currently, I get overwhelmed super easy, so if I do come to your shindig, don’t be surprised if I leave early.
I’ve ordered the wrong milk in a café and told the barista, “Sorry, my dad died recently and I’m completely out of it.”
When my family or close friends ask how I’m doing, my usual response is, “I’m here. You know, just feeling like my left arm is cut off and I don’t know where it is.”
The pre-grief Keli was a jovial little bitch and her remarks would have been, “Great!! How are you?”
Grief and death are subjects’ people can get squirrely with.
My honest response is to honor my journey…whether that makes you comfortable or not.
And of course, I think these topics should be discussed more in life because they can be lonely and isolating if you don’t talk about them.
- I fumble constantly but give myself GRACE.
Here’s where I fumble – when I think I can say “yes” to something (in the moment) but when the time comes, I actually don’t have it in me to do the thing I said “yes” to.
I’ve had to say “no” at the last minute to my very best friend more times in the last couple of months than I ever have in our lifelong friendship.
I forget to tell people the stipulation: “This sounds like a “yes” to me right now, but let’s revisit this when the time gets closer.”
In December alone – the month of my Pop’s and Hub’s birthday, along with the holiday’s – we ate out constantly.
Not something we do consistently, but I gave myself grace to not cook and get through this hectic month as sane as possible.
So, perhaps, if you blow at boundaries, or want to get more aligned with how you show up in the world and where you place your energy – don’t wait for grief to give you the permission – do it now, yo!
And get to flexin’ those boundary muscles.
Love + Big-Ass Boundary Grief Lessons,
Psst…Grief-life is a giant mirror for your friendships and relationships in life. It’s a brutal process to watch someone grieve. It’s also a beautiful process to be in the thick of it with them.
Also, if you don’t have a robe (it’s like you’re constantly wearing a warm hug), get yo’ass to a Target ASAP. I basically live in this wardrobe now.