If you are a regular reader of my musings, then you know that I have spent the last few weeks sitting with my mom as she died. If you are new to my writings … well, hello. That’s a big introduction. Welcome to the conversation.

I am working my way through my grief, and I have been so very moved by all of the heartfelt and thoughtful words of solace and the words of wisdom you have sent my way.

Midcoast resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at heather@heatherdmartin.com.

As I sat with the many kind messages you sent, it dawned on me that the advice was actually sound stuff for not just me but anyone navigating grief of any sort. Or not even just grief, but also angst or uncertainty. It struck me that your advice would be helpful to those out there simply feeling overwhelmed. Climate change, wars overseas, the nightly news – there’s a lot going on for all of us right now. Heck, the advice you offered would be helpful for those navigating “joyful angst” as well! The stress of a new relationship, a move or a graduation.

So. In the hopes of spreading some much needed balm to all of us who are feeling a little raw from the rigors of navigating this thing called life, may I present to you, your own, excellent advice.

Slow down

Our brains are pretty astounding things, capable of processing vast amounts of information while keeping our bodies humming along – but introduce stress, and things can jump the rails. It seems a pretty common experience that when processing something big, lots of other things go wrong. I heard stories about fender benders, valuables being lost or broken, or seemingly ridiculous mistakes being made – stuff one would never normally do. Here at our house, a horse gate got left open (no names mentioned) and I myself added salt instead of sugar to the cut strawberries. Slow down. Take your time, move (or drive) slower than normal, let your overburdened brain have a little more space to make a decision. Which leads us to …


Don’t make big decisions

Apparently, a lot of you agree that anything which is potentially life altering or a significant expense really ought to wait until you are through the grief. I get that. However, easier said than done. Sometimes the thing that sparked the stress demands a decision: What job do you take now that you are out of school? Do you sell your family home? Or move back to it? Sometimes, waiting isn’t an option. So I would offer a friendly amendment: If a decision cannot be put off, then at least run it by a trusted friend or family member who is outside the crisis – someone who can listen objectively.


This is for real! Stress can really take a toll on your body. If you are crying – even more so. And in this heat? It becomes serious quickly. You need to replenish with some cool, clear water or an electrolyte fluid if you’ve really been pushing it. Lack of hydration can cause serious health problems. Numerous studies indicate that dehydration can cause cognitive impairment, mood changes and even hallucinations. Keep a bottle of water handy and drink even if you don’t feel like it. Your body will thank you.

Give yourself some grace 

This is the hardest one, and also the most universally needed. We are hard on ourselves, folks. But why? Even when you are not neck deep in worry, cutting yourself some slack is a good idea.

These are all excellent self care techniques. Thank you for suggesting them. I am using them (and even tracking them in my notebook) and look forward to the day when I no longer need them. Well, or at least not as much. Let’s be honest, these are good things to keep as part of everyday life. Take care of yourself.

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