Episode 30: Extreme exhaustion
You are listening to the Life Reconstructed podcast with me, Teresa Amaral Beshwate, grief expert, best-selling author and widow. I’m so glad you’re here because in this and every episode, I shine a light on the widowed way forward.
Hello and welcome to episode 30. In this episode, I acknowledge the extreme exhaustion that comes with the loss of a spouse, and I highlight 3 types of unnecessary exhaustion that are optional. Plus, I share six practical tips to alleviate exhaustion.
If we automatically received an owner’s manual for profound loss, it would have an entire chapter on exhaustion. And this chapter wouldn’t be about your garden-variety exhaustion; it would be about unprecedented, debilitating exhaustion, so deep and intense that every cell in the body is impacted.
Extreme exhaustion is the evil twin of grief. It moves into our lives and attaches itself so firmly to our entire being that we think we’ll never break free.
In the early days and weeks:
Keeping up with the day-to-day tasks is exhausting.
Taking a shower is exhausting.
The simple act of chewing food was, for me, exhausting.
Early in grief, just existing is exhausting.
As we progress through the years:
Putting on a game face and going out into the world is exhausting.
Staying “strong” for others is exhausting.
Letting people misunderstand us can be exhausting.
Grieving at 2, 3, 4, 5 years and beyond, in a non-grief savvy world can be exhausting.
Exhaustion after loss is not something that a few good nights of sleep can fix.
This type of exhaustion comes from carrying the weight of loss, from the lack of sleep and proper nutrition, and from the incredible stress of the situation.
Even deeper than the physical and mental exhaustion is the exhaustion that settles in the soul. We question our loss, wonder why we’re still here, and search for new purpose in life.
Some of this comes with the territory of losing a spouse. And some of it is extra, unnecessary and optional. And that’s what I want to help you recognize. Because this journey doesn’t have to be one ounce heavier than it already is.
Here are 3 types of exhaustion that make the journey unnecessarily harder:
1. Number 1: Judging your journey creates more exhaustion. You feel exhausted and then you judge the fact that you feel exhausted. Instead of thinking “Why am I still crying?” and “Shouldn’t I be further along by now?” we can choose to think, “Okay, this is what we’ve got today,” or “I’m doing this on my own timeline,” or “I’m learning.”
2. Number 2: Guilt and regret are common emotions that add to exhaustion. When your brain offers you the notion that you weren’t a good enough spouse, remind yourself that you’re human, you had no idea that time was so short, and you have always done your best. Guilt and regret, like all feelings, come from the thought your brain is offering you. Never believe everything you think. You are not your thoughts - you’re the observer of your thoughts. You get to decide what thoughts are true and serve you well, and then think those thoughts on purpose.
3. Number 3: Avoiding the feelings that come with grief only postpones them and adds to the fatigue. Feelings wait patiently, and while they wait, they grow. Processing emotion is one of the superpowers within each of us that we can tap. Listen to episode 4 for more.
Here are 6 tips to alleviate extreme exhaustion:
1. Tip #1 is: Make yourself a priority. What part of your current routine is draining you or otherwise not serving you? In what ways could you be better caring for yourself? Figure out what brings a glimmer of peace to you and seek it out regularly with no apologies.
2. Tip #2: Retire as a people pleaser. Say no. End conversations. Walk away. Let them be wrong about you. Bring relationships to a close as needed.
3. Tip #3: Recharge your batteries in whatever way works best for you. For me, it’s large doses of solitude and silence, and preferably outdoors.
4. Tip #4: Find your people. In a non-grief-savvy world, it’s important to find like-minded people who get it.
5. Tip #5: Mind your thoughts. Are they true? Useful? And Kind? Would you speak them to any other person? Love yourself by speaking to yourself with kindness.
6. And tip #6: Remember that grieving is learning. You’re learning yourself, your life, and every single thing about it. Give yourself permission to be a beginner, and to learn.
If I thought that self-judgement and kicking yourself was the best path through grief, I’d help you do it. But it isn’t the way. Love is the way. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You’ve been through the unthinkable. Be gentle with yourself. It’s the most efficient way forward, I promise.
If this episode was helpful, please share it with a widowed friend. And remember that I believe in you, and I’m here for you. Take care.
If you’ve found this podcast helpful, I invite you to join Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. It will help you step forward toward a life you will love again. Simply go to thesuddenwidowcoach.com and click work with me.