Father's Day without your father is hard. Though I've spent a few years without physically seeing my dad on Father's Day while he was living overseas, this time… it's hard to even write it… his being gone is different. I can't pick up the phone and call him. This is probably why I avoid my phone all day on Father's Day and holidays till I acknowledge what I'm doing. But I digress.
I know I'm not the only one journeying through grief. People have told me, 'you never get over the loss of a parent.' Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic took many of our loved ones from us. Not only that, many people were unable to have the traditional services we typically use to start our grief process. This only adds to the sense of confusion, loss, and sadness as we find a different way to transition our loved ones and start our grief process.
They say 'time heals all wounds.' I don't think that works for grief or any emotional process other than physical wounds. Even most physical wounds need intervention to heal properly. However, I have found that time has made it easier to talk about my emotional wounds, or specifically my grief journey. Last Father's Day, six months after losing Dad, I couldn't articulate how I was feeling. I was still processing my dad being gone and all the events of the year surrounding his departure. Honestly, I'm still processing. However, I've made progress. Healing has started. But it has taken intervention. My grief intervention has included learning to receive God's Love, the overabundance of love from those around me, and, yes, going to therapy. Emotional wounds, like physical wounds, take intervention to heal. Intervention looks different for everyone. I've learned to E.M.B.R.A.C.E. the process as I progress, and I encourage you to do the same (see below for information on E.M.B.R.A.C.E.).
You may be wondering, 'What does grief have to do with your weight and wellness'? Well, I can tell you from personal and professional experience that, if you are vulnerable to weight gain, what weighs us down emotionally will eventually show up in our physical weight also. Often we try to soothe our emotional pain with physical interventions like overeating indulgent foods or oversleeping to avoid feeling bad, etc. Physical interventions seldom satisfy emotional pain and lead to physical discomfort that worsens our emotional pain. As a recovered emotional eater, I've learned that dealing with the emotional source was essential to helping me overcome emotional eating. I'm grateful I was six years into my weight and wellness journey before Dad passed and the events of 2020, or I'm sure I would have tried to use food to soothe the pain.
Thankfully my Embrace YOU Strategy contains tools for overcoming emotional eating during tough times like grief. Since launching Embrace You in 2020, I also had the opportunity to empower three amazing groups with the tools to optimize their weight and wellness during the pandemic and through emotions, like grief, that threatened to sabotage their weight and wellness journey.
Father's Day may have been tough for you. Acknowledge that. Embrace it. The pain is part of the process.
Release physical interventions that can't fully satisfy your emotional pain.
Release ignoring the pain.
Release isolating yourself.
Time will help, but it won't heal what you won't address.
Choose to E.M.B.R.A.C.E. the process as you progress (See How Below).
I am sending you an overabundance of love on this Father's Day and every day. - Dr. Sylvia
Allow yourself time to E.M.B.R.A.C.E. the process as you progress.
Take time to:
▪️Express yourself based on how you genuinely feel at the time. Everyone grieves differently. The traditional stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance may look different for you.
Expressing yourself doesn't have to be verbal. Writing, creating, etc., are all forms of expression that can help you in the process.
▪️Make room for people who really care about you. Grief can feel isolating. It may be tempting to shut people out during that time. However, it is helpful to have safe, supportive people around. If you do not have family or friends that are safe and supportive, look into grief counseling and support groups. Even if you do have supportive people in your life, I highly recommend having a therapist or counselor on your journey for the first year. My therapist has been an invaluable resource.
▪️Be patient with yourself. Grief is a process. Medically acute grief lasts 3-6 months. But the residual effects of loss and the process of acceptance are lifelong. Seek professional help if you are concerned about your grief interfering with your ability to function daily or leading to harmful behaviors.
▪️Release people who aren't helpful or supportive on your grief journey. Your time of grief is your time of grief. It is a natural part of healing. Beware people who want to shift your focus to themselves during your healing time or hurry your process along.
▪️Acknowledge you need help during this time. Grief is stressful. Even if you aren't aware of how you're feeling, you can have subconscious sadness on trigger dates or events. Especially in the first year, find ways to decrease your stress. Get a housekeeper. Order dinner once a week.
▪️Celebrate your loved one's life. Make time to celebrate your loved one in special ways daily. For example, my Dad was very creative. He loved music, art, reading, crafting, and cooking. He also loved exercise and being out in nature. Each time I do any of these things, I feel like I'm celebrating Dad and spending time with him. What makes you feel like you're celebrating your loved one and spending time with them? Do it daily.
▪️Every day, do self-care. It can be easy to get so focused on the grief and the practical things that must occur after a loved one passes your self-care takes a backseat. During this time, be intentional about the spiritual, physical, and mental wellness activities that replenish you. For me, my relationship with God is essential to my well-being. I make time each day to pray, read a Biblical devotional, and write in my gratitude journal. Being loved and loving others is also important to me, so I'm intentional about making family time. Movement or exercise, especially outdoor activity, helps me feel better, so I try not to go more than two days without at least one minute of movement.
It may be tempting to "comfort eat" during this time, but I've found eating minimally processed, whole food with less sugar actually makes me feel better as I heal emotionally.
What is most important to your self-care?
How will you fit it into your daily routine?
It's so easy to neglect our self-care. You may need to ask someone you trust to help hold you accountable in this area.
It's been one year for me on my grief journey. Wherever you are on your grief journey, I pray that you find hope and healing along the way.
If you are ready to release obsessing over the scale and self-sabotage to embrace freedom and confidence on your weight and wellness journey, Embrace YOU Weight and Wellness is currently accepting new Embracers till 6/24. Schedule a complimentary consultation today to start your journey to Embrace You.
I've included some additional resources I found helpful on my grief journey:
"When you lose a parent" Theresa Jackson
"Grief Bites: Finding Treasure in Hardships" Kim Niles (YouVersion App)
"Rising Strong" Brené Brown, Ph. D, LCSW
"Self Care Prescription" Robyn Gobin, Ph.D.
Here are some resources to help you address emotional eating during this time:
To find a therapist in your area
If you are having any thoughts of harming yourself or severe emotional distress call
Disclaimer: Everyone's grief journey and needs are different. This information is provided for general use, not specific medical advice. Please see your own medical professional for personal recommendations.