Back to school, back to routines…or not

By Jacque Amweg, Grief Support Specialist at Kansas City Hospice

Grief Support Kansas City Hospice

Maybe it’s time to start getting back to school, back to routine…or not… It’s been awhile since I’ve prepared children for back to school, but as I see the commercials and signs for big back to school sales it brings back memories and emotions that can be unexpected. I notice a longing for some of those precious annual activities at times. At other times I have a sense of disbelief that so much time has passed since I held a little hand on the way into kindergarten. I have a friend who makes a point of buying new crayons every year even though her children are grown and gone from her home.  Her purchase touches on a nostalgic need to be part of this nurturing routine of preparation.

Seasons and events are signals of what comes next. There is usually a flow and rhythm to our lives. Think of the regularity of seasons, the routine of weekend schedules, the workday patterns of activity or even the habits of meal preparation or bedtime routines. We have a way of incorporating these ongoing transitions into our lives almost without thinking about it. Until it happens that we can’t.  These transition times can be disrupted in a powerful and painful way when someone who is important to us dies.

I often hear people say that they don’t want the death of someone dear to them to change how they live. They want to continue with the usual activities. They want children to have the same routine. They want to continue to keep traditions that have always been important. They want to live as though they are not touched by this loss.  The reality is that we are forever changed by the death of someone who is important to us. 

Grief Support Kansas City Hospice

Life is bound to be different.  Although it may be a comfort to maintain routines and traditions, it may also help to allow some changes to routines and schedules if needed.  Holidays may need to be planned in a new way. We may not feel up to maintaining the same work schedule. We may find less meaning in some activities. It may be hard to sleep in a half-empty bed. Chores and creative endeavors that used to give us a sense of satisfaction may have less importance for awhile. Give some thought to when to force the routine and when to allow a change.

Others have shared some creative ways they have changed routines that have helped them.Grief Support Kansas City Hospice

  • Sleep on the other side of the bed.
  • Invite a friend on the morning walk.
  • Create something.
  • Read before sleep.
  • Vacation with extended family.
  • Sleep late.
  • Meditate each morning.
  • Call a friend or family member every day.
  • Plan a special dinner with someone. 
  • Arrange an area in your home with some special belongings and photos of the person who died.
  • Go to a different grocery store.
  • Hire yard work done.
  • Sit in her recliner.
  • Take the day off on his birthday.
  • Light a candle at meals.
  • Say “yes” to friend’s invitations.
  • Tell the story.
  • Let the tears come instead of fighting them.

Everything may seem wrong and uncomfortable.  Meanwhile, life keeps going on and it is necessary to determine how and how not to keep going with it.  Whether changing or maintaining routines, it takes gentle self-care.  This can be a painful and disorienting time.  Rely on a trusted friend or family member to share your experience with and find ways of expression that are right for you.  If you think talking to someone about some of these adjustments would be helpful, please give us a call to schedule an appt. with a grief support specialist.

The grief support specialists at Kansas City Hospice and Solace House can help you cope with issues of grief and loss. It’s part of our mission to provide compassionate care to our community.

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