What Do You Do When Shiva Ends?
Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, most people experience a sense of "sitting shiva" after the loss of a loved one. Family and friends gather to express sympathy, surround you with love and support and bring food and warmth into your home. This time can be quite magical; there is so much love and kindness mixed with a stillness that life has slowed down for you to process your loss.
I am choosing to write on this topic because I have a very personal experience with loss. My mother passed away two years ago. The gathering that occurred after her death was very profound and healing for me. I felt truly "held up" and cared for by so many people in my community. My mother's death was sudden, and the shock of it added a layer of shock and trauma to my grieving.
I am not Jewish, but there was indeed a sense of people coming to "sit shiva" with me, and I absolutely loved that experience; I needed it. But people began to come by less and less, and our fridge wasn't filled by our friends with homemade meals anymore; our pantry wasn't magically stocked for us.
I wasn't ready to go grocery shopping and cook yet. But I had to get back out into the world, so I began to create a sense of "sitting shiva" for myself every day.
I live in a way now that is constantly honoring my grieving and my new life as a daughter without her mother.
I now make sure I plan ahead so I am never rushed for time. The sensation of being rushed causes the body to be stressed, which releases stress hormones and creates a sense of dis-ease. I already have a constant sense of dis-ease due to the trauma of my mother's sudden death, so I try to live a mindful life that creates a sense of peace and harmony. This helps to heal the nervous system and support a healthy endocrine system.
I eat well and often. I don't let myself get to the sensation of hunger. I plan ahead and prepare food so I always have healthy choices that nourish my body and avoid hypoglycemia. I keep snacks in my purse and always have water with me to stay hydrated.
I surround myself with understanding and loving people. Dealing with grief is a long process, and I want to take this journey with individuals who will support me along the way.
I meditate on a daily basis to support my healing. There is great need for creating calm and stillness, especially when dealing with PTSD associated with some grieving.
I find the simple things in life. I move slower and appreciate the miracle of nature. I look into the eyes of strangers and smile. I notice more. I live each day in the energy of "sitting shiva" for myself. It brings me peace to carry on that nurturing energy that my community planted the seed of in the days after my mother's death. I continue to water that seed every day with kind and loving choices for myself.