For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.
It struck me recently that a lot of the things I’ve gone through personally in the last year have been aging related, and as with any transition in our lives, there has been grief and loss that showed up too. In the two knee surgeries I needed, both “wear and tear” related because I’ve been a long distance runner for years. In needing to find new ways to exercise, as it’s looking like my triathlon and marathon days are probably over. In the way my body needs a very healthy diet in order for me to feel my best. In the extra rest and recuperation I need to function well in my everyday life. All these issues are here simply because I’m older now.
As part of the “sandwich generation,” those of us who are caring for kids who are still at home while also worrying about aging parents, this personal aging piece kind of snuck up on me. It’s like one day I was going to all my doctor appointments getting confirmation that I’m very healthy, to now going to appointments to hear about all the things I need to change (and the extra tests that need to happen) for confirmation that I’m still pretty healthy. Fun times…. Not so much!
Here’s what’s applicable to all of us as we age: It’s so important to grieve the loss of your younger self, so you can fully embrace where you are in life today. I may have done this kicking and screaming and with full resistance for a while (and yes, I get the irony as I am a licensed therapist). But, once I stopped and let myself have the time and space I needed to grieve this loss, I felt a lightness afterwards, one that has stayed with me.
This is just one example of many things you may be grieving in motherhood, such as:
- The person you were before you had kids
- Your pre-kid relationship with your partner
- Your pre-baby body
- Your health
- The younger you
- The loss of a loved one
- A miscarriage/pregnancy loss
- Alone time
- Lazy days
- Uninterrupted time with family and friends
As grief falls on a continuum, some of the things you may be grieving might feel more extreme on the grief scale than others. Remember that all grief is valid.
If you are currently grieving, be sure to take good care of you. This may look like soothing activities such as:
- Making time for a long, hot shower or bath
- Processing your grief with a trained therapist
- Listening to your favorite music
- Allowing yourself time and space to cry
- Writing in a journal
- Going for a walk
- Doing some yoga stretches
- Connecting with a close friend or family member
Notice, none of these are distracting activities to numb the grief such as watching your favorite show or listening to a podcast. Those are fine too. Just be intentional about when you can process your grief and when you need a distraction from it. Finally, the grief process can be a hard space to be in, but if you allow yourself time and space to process what’s really going on, the hope is that you can start to feel better soon.