Navigating grief, and walking the grief journey is complicated at the best of times. It’s easy to get confused, turned around, to lose our way.

Lists. Grocery lists. Hardware store lists. Lists of places I want to visit, and people I want to call. Chores that I want to do and other things that I feel like I need to do. Lists for my personal life, as well as professional. Yep, I’m a huge fan of lists!

When you are grieving, I encourage you to feel your way through. What sort of lists support you?

For instance, I had a short checklist when I was early in my grief. I don’t recall precisely, but it looked something like this.

  • Check to be sure that my blouse is buttoned (because I arrived in my office one day and they were not, yikes!)
  • Am I wearing shoes? (because I found myself in the grocery store in slippers, it was a snowy January day)
  • If I’m wearing earrings, do they match?

I’m sure that you get the idea. This short list helped me to be sure that I would always arrive in my office put together. This gave me reassurance and relieved me of worry. It also made me chuckle a little bit, so for me, it was a good thing.

When this was first written, we were experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, so we are self-isolating in our home. For me, this provides a lot of opportunities, but it also can bring some feelings of overwhelm. After all, If I’m home all day, every day, shouldn’t my house sparkle? Shouldn’t all of the to-do’s be done? Cooking should be at the gourmet level, after all, there is all that time! My business blog should be months ahead, I should be calling, emailing, and listening to webinars… do you feel the incredible pressure of all that ‘should-ing’? I sure do!

So, I sat down and really thought about the sort of lists that are always ongoing in my house.

  • Shopping list. What we want, what we need, and what we want to look for.
  • House projects. This was broken down into bite-size increments. In other words, rather than simply write ‘sand and re-paint the woodwork’ I wrote ‘sand the woodwork’ and then broke it down further by rooms and areas. This allows me to check off those pieces as they are attended to and still know what is not finished. The same with re-painting.

There are always various lists in our house, as both my husband and I find them helpful. We each have our way of doing this. For me, it’s helpful to have a master list and then smaller lists so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. This helps to remind me of what is manageable.

Something that I find really helpful is to also make a list of what I have already accomplished.

If you are grieving, you may well be feeling levels of overwhelm. Focus can be difficult and there are times that motivation doesn’t show up at all. So I encourage you to make short lists. Perhaps write them down, use a note-keeping feature on your cell phone, or even tell them to someone else.

If you’ve read my messages before, you know that I’m a huge fan of keeping a Gratitude List. And adding to it every day. Here are some other suggestions.

  • What did I do today that I feel good about? This might be cleaning the house from top to bottom or it could be something like ‘I got out of bed for an hour today’. No judgment here. This is about you, what you want. What you need. What helps and supports you?
  • A list of things that someone said to me that was kind and helped me to feel good. This feels like a hug when I’m feeling sad or lonely.
  • What do I notice about myself that I like and appreciate?
  • What did I say or do for someone else that felt good?

You may keep one list or 75, what serves you? What helps you to feel supported? Motivated? Loving and loved?

As always, this is about you. It’s always about you. Because you matter. Together we can walk that path, through grief, into healing.

Sandy Walden
Master Grief Coach
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Together, we walk through GRIEF, into healing.
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