Congratulate yourself, you’re coping with grief

Congratulations!

No seriously, congratulations.

You are doing it.  You are surviving.  You are breathing in and out and you are putting one foot in front of the other. In the past, you probably wouldn’t have considered things like these accomplishments, but that was before you began walking around in the darkness with a broken heart and 20 extra pounds of complicated emotion.

Over time, I’ve come to believe that coping with grief is about doing small things and taking tiny steps that shift your wellness gauge towards ‘okay’ bit-by-bit-by-bit. The downside of this is that grief can feel like ongoing and long lasting work, but the upside is that the work can be done in manageable doses and most likely you’re already doing it. So congratulations. You’re doing it. You’re coping with grief. 

I know many of you will want to reject my praise because grief has been known to cause self-doubt false modesty. Many people feel not-good-enough because they compare themselves to their BG-selves (before grief selves) or some other ideal. So if you’re comparing yourself to your BG-self, stop right now.  When you compare yourself to the BG-you or a more-perfect-future-you, you run the risk of overlooking your everyday wins and accomplishments and never noticing how far you’ve come.

 

Too often grieving people beat themselves up for not being able to do things like get over it, get it together, keep it together, go back to normal, be strong, be inspiring, grow, grieve the ‘right’ way, and so on. When in reality some of these things are unattainable (i.e. getting over it, going back to normal, grieving in the ‘right’ way) and the rest I’m willing to bet you’re already doing in small ways each and every day.

So at the risk of sounding cheesy, here’s what I want you to do – Take some time to congratulate yourself on the steps you’ve taken in your grief. No matter how bad you feel or how much you think you’re struggling, I guarantee there’s at least one thing you can congratulate yourself for in this moment.

Congratulate yourself for getting out of bed today. I don’t care what time it was when you got up or how long you waited before getting back in bed. You did it.

Congratulate yourself on getting dressed. I don’t care if the only clean thing in your closet today was an old velour track suit from the early 2000’s. Still counts.

Congratulate yourself on doing your school-work, work-work, or housework. So you don’t do windows anymore? Smudged windows have character!

Congratulate yourself for seeking grief support.  I don’t care if all you could bring yourself to do was read this bonkers grief post. It’s the first step.

Congratulate yourself for finding ways to grow, even though I know you’d trade all your growth to have your loved one back.

You get the picture.


Do this as a journal exercise:

Congratulating yourself actually makes for a great journaling exercise.  Simply spend some time completing the phrase:

I want to congratulate myself for ___________________________________________

We’ve even created a PDF journal page for this exercise. Download it here: Congratulations Journal Page


Share in the WYG Community:

Sing your praises loud and proud. Congratulate yourself for one thing (or more) in the comment section below. When you’ve finished, reply to another person’s comment and congratulate them for the good job they’re doing.  It feels good. We promise!

And don’t forget to subscribe.

September 1, 2017

41 responses on "Congratulate yourself, you're coping with grief"

  1. Thanks so much for this blog,, you wont believe how helpful it , really appreciate your time and wonderful words.

  2. This blog is so necessary and am grateful for the common bond…attempting to survive grief.
    Today I accomplished several things:
    Found this site..
    Will call Habitat for Humanity…workshop and garage filled with tools…
    Think about getting dressed…
    Will attempt to:
    Meditate more..
    Be more compassionate…
    Realize my grieving journey…is my grieving journey…
    Repeat my favorite Metta more often during the day…
    May you be safe and protected
    May you be healthy and whole
    May you be happy and content
    And, may you be at peace
    I lost my husband of thirty seven years three months ago. We had a wonderful and very fun marriage.
    He was spectacular his entire life and when he passed, not fearful and surrounded with love.
    I cannot imagine losing him suddenly, dieing too young or not being with him when he passed as so many of you have. For this I am so grateful.
    Blessings to all of you

  3. I think this article is a very good idea.
    I lost my life partner of 10 years to colon caner 27/1/2027
    This is the 3rd time I have been widowed I am 54 years old.
    It was hard enough to cope with his sudden loss and then all the paperwork. Compounded by a move to a much smaller space.

    I have joined social groups and am joining Toastmasters I am a different person.
    Still trying to work it all out,but proud of myself

  4. I discovered this website a few weeks ago through the WYG podcast. I liked the worksheet that came with this-it seemed silly at first since I have been journaling daily, but it was actually fun to do. Today I woke up crying but then I meditated, journaled , wrote stuff for work. I jogged 7 miles. I reached out to a couple friends, who live in my hometown where I am visiting right now for the week because I was feeling too lonely in the town I live. My mom died 10 weeks ago, in her early 60s. She had been in and out of the hospital over the past few years, but that doesn’t make now easier. This blog post should be reposted every few months as a reminder that all these little things we are doing are actually a big deal 🙂

  5. The idea of congratulating myself for even the small steps helped bring me out of a funk and to realize I’m really not as low as I thought. Thanks to everyone for their comments. I especially appreciate the mantras many have posted as their guides to making the days better.

  6. “Congratulations” seemed so inappropriate at first read…but continuing on into the article I suppose congratulations is as good a “props to us” as any other for surviving the death of someone we love and living through the incredible emotional and physical pain of living with a broken heart. I congratulate us all for the daily breaths and foot steps we place one in front of the other. My tears run freely as I type, for having to participate in this congratulations challenge and I add a BIG congratulations to myself for healing and reclaiming the total use of my shoulder (when I was told I wouldn’t) after falling and breaking the bone after the death of my son. I wanted to give up many times but I heard my son’s voice in my head as a disabled Iraqi combat veteran shouting YOU GOT THIS MOM ! I miss my son.

    • Bless you Kathleen. I am sorry you have had to deal with your arm pain in addition to your emotional pain. That’s like a double whammy when you least needed it. Just know that there are others out here that are rooting for your recovery both physically and emotionally. I am sending my love to you electronically, just as your son is sending his to you spiritually.

      • Steve Peterson….congratulations to us all for having someone as kind as you to reply to our comments. I hope that I can be as comforting to another person suffering the pain of losing someone they love as you have comforted so many of us here on this page. Your effort to be happy, to swim to shore through your sea of sorrow, to be mentally, emotionally and physically fit is a great example for us all. I will take your words to heart, think of you when I falter and remember to be as kind and giving as you have been when the time calls for me to be. You are in my prayers as we move forward through our lives as they are now, grieving and honoring our lost loved ones. Kathleen

  7. I guess I could congratulate myself for getting up this morning. I lost my son in a freak motorcycle accident 18 months ago today. I survived aortic dissected surgery, a rare bacterial infection and my immune system totally bottoming out, all of which I was told, most people don’t survive. I survived all of that in 2014, to lose my son 3/3/16. He was 45, accident happened ironically on exit 45 north off ofI-95 in Florida. He was not found for over four hours. So much keeps running through my mind. I can’t seem to stop the emotional , overwhelming wave that keeps trying to drown me. I have two beautiful daughters, whom I love dearly, and the support that I thought , and think should be there for each other, just isn’t there. I known they have their pain, too, but I feel like I’ve been shut out. It hurts so much.
    And I guess I can now congratulate myself for sharing my thoughts. I haven’t been able to do even this much before. It makes me crazy, the gut feeling that something happened that night. Like him getting run off the road, or something physically happening to him. He had ridden all over the U. S. Some things I know that I will never know, but can’t shake the pain.
    Thank you for letting me share. Thank you for sharing with me.

    • I’m so sorry Patsy 🙁 Congratulations and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Patsy, bless you as you relive your pain. Your other children are investing in their lives, I am sure, and maybe it helps to look at it that way. Investing may seem like an odd term to use since we normally think of that as a financial term. I think they know they have to invest the time and energy in their lives to be okay. Maybe, they just don’t know what to communicate to you. Maybe, they feel helpless in making the situation better for you. Their distance or silence maybe just an expression of their helplessness and trying to move on and continue investing in their lives. Your son, I am sure, wants everyone to know that he enjoyed his motorcycle, and never wanted his enjoyment to cause heartache for you and the rest of the family and friends. My grief and circumstances are different, but I know my loved one would not want her passing to have a negative impact on me or the family. Of course, it does, because we are human beings. Sorry for the confusing rambling here, but just know that many of us grievers walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you everyday.

  8. Congratulations to me for attending my friend’s daughter’s wedding on Saturday.
    My daughter died four months ago from an accidental overdose. She and her boyfriend were planning to marry this summer or fall.
    It was a tough day for me but I feel like I held it together and didn’t make anything uncomfortable for anyone.
    It then became a beautiful night while the reception continued under sparkling fairy lights.
    While the event was nothing that my daughter would have chosen for her day, it made me think about what it would have been like, who would have been there, how happy she would have been and now how that it will never be and her boyfriend is shattered.
    But I did it. And I only cried after it got dark and no one saw.

    • Dear Ester. I am so sorry for your grief, but you had the courage to make the anticipated special day still a special day for those who continue to walk on this little blue planet everyday. I know your daughter is proud that the day was not just cancelled, and that it went on as a memorial to not just her, but to sharing love with each other.

    • Sorry Esther. My response was a little off base. I didn’t know until I reread your post that you attended a friend’s daughter’s wedding. Well, regardless of my error, CONGRATULATIONS on what I call “taking on the day” when it may have been easier for you to just stay home. That takes courage.

  9. It has been two years since the suicide of our beloved son. I have tried to continue on with life. Since our son died on our weddng anniversary I decided we should reclaim that day and celebrate him on his birthday instead of his death day. I try to take care of myself, to look for joy, to be open to reminders of his spirit. For example, I now watch for feathers and imagine them as small messages. …This WYG article was helpful to me because I want to continue learning how to allow my sadness to take its time and not to feel self critical about the past or the present. I am so impressed by what each of the writers has been able to accomplish.

  10. Congratulations to all those who are posting – for your own congratulation responses – so impressed by the many little ways in which we have all managed grief – lots of thanks to WYG for walking this journey with me. Today is the second anniversary of my father’s sudden death that will always be tempered with the joy of also being our only grandson’s birthday – 7 today! It has been a tough two years for our family but I want to congratulate us all on persevering one day at a time – we are determined to find joy in the little things of life and remember the light when the dark surfaces. Haven’t responded before but am very thankful for all the blogs and all the posts – knowing you are not alone and that you are ‘normal’ is so life-giving!

  11. Thank you thank you thank you. With the different losses in my life I have looked for support but never found what I needed till I found you. Finally someone who has experienced the pain and really understands. It is so obvious that you really understand ( and sadly experienced it). God Bless, and again, many thanks, appreciate you more than my words can express.

  12. Thank you for this. I congratulate on moving forwatd. Since my husband’s death 15 months ago, I have rented a house, got rid of 2 cars and bought a car, and bought a couch…that is a big deal to me. I have also taken care of my medical stuff. Smsll staps, but I’m moving forward one step at a time.

  13. This is what I needed today! I’m facing the two year anniversary of my husband passing to cancer. I found myself a widow at 49, my two boys have gone overseas and I’m wondering what next for me! Im at a crossroads again but after a tough week of being sick with the flu and feeling so lonely I’m coming out the other side and starting to realise I really do need to plan now for my future. So I will congratulate that decision in its own right. The other words and thoughts from people have inspired me too – thank you

  14. This was just what I needed today. Its been almost 2 1/2 years since the love of my life passed. His birthday is Saturday and every day without him is still so painful. But…I am making progress and now will congratulate myself for each day I honor his memory and myself. Thank you so much!

    • Barbara, you are a beautiful human being as you honor your loved one. I am sure he wishes he could have been with you longer, and is your best fan in seeing you make progress in your walk through grief.

  15. I so needed this today! Thank you!

    • Yes, we all need this support either virtually or with family and friends. As human beings, we just need each other. We are not meant to be alone in many ways, except some are okay with living alone. I need this forum. I don’t like to burden my family and friends with my dark moments. I just feel better reading this forum and knowing that I am not alone.

  16. Next week we would have been married 42 years, it will be 4 years without him come this December. Most days I can talk about him without crying and reminisce with the kids about the dad they lost. I’ve left my home, moved to take care of my youngest grandchild. It’s not the dream I had for my life, but I am beginning to dream of a new one.

    • Jackie, bless you! I lost my wife of 44 years, and I enjoy the company of my two precious grand-daughters ages 4 and 5. I never knew that I would enjoy being a grandfather so much. Those little gifts from heaven have given me so much joy. They are a great distraction from my grief. A day with my family including my grandchildren is a day of sunshine and a partly cloudy sky. A day without them is overcast with the possibility of emotional storms. I am doing what I consider to be okay with my grief. Yeah, it is still there, but I have hope my progress will continue, and someday I will be in a better place. So CONGRATULATIONS to those who still have hope despite their grief trying to erode it away.

  17. Thank you. I’m so grateful for your blogs and for everyone’s comments. <3
    Congratulations Shawna, you've made it three months without your Mom. I know you didn't think you could , but you have; and you will continue to make it.

  18. It’s been almost 15 months since my oldest daughter’s suicide. I congratulate myself for facing my intense guilt and enormous load of regrets. I congratulate myself for surviving and for finding a new line of work for a while and for keeping myself healthy by eating well and exercing. I have a long journey but I can travel at my own pace.

    • Frances: “You go girl!” And go at your own comfortable pace. I know you have been through a lot of pain, and it is hopeful to the rest of us, who may be new to their grief, to see others make progress. I consider myself kind of lost in the wilderness without a compass, but I can CONGRATULATE myself that at least I am up and moving everyday even if it is in a circle.

  19. Your article was spot on!
    This is a card I put in my purse to remind me how to have a Great Day.
    Do something outside.
    Make someone smile.
    Accomplish one task.
    Enjoy a song.
    Learn something new.
    Acknowledge something beautiful.
    Marie

    • Thank you Marie! Such practical ideas. I went to the beach on Friday, and there was something about the waves hitting the shore that kept me mesmerized and feeling healing within. I make it a point to make life better for others, because it makes me feel better, too. A smile doesn’t cost anything, a kind word doesn’t cost anything, holding a door open for others doesn’t cost anything. So I am going to put your list on a piece of paper and see if I can accomplish those things every day.

  20. My husband died 6 months ago, and I sometimes can’t believe I survived this far. His death was sudden and left me with mountains of paper, business and money issues, plus a garage filled with tools I couldn’t identify. I set out to simplify my life and am happy to say all the business has been taken care of and I have accomplished the simplicity I needed and still need. I don’t fight my grief…I call it a beast with claws and teeth. I welcome it and am finding that while the pain is still intense, the length of these painful visits is shorter. My mantra each day continues to be, “I am alive; I will survive,” and will continue to recognize moments of happiness, however muted.

    • Thanks, Mary! Your comment about “a garage filled with tools I couldn’t identify” hit a chord. As I found new homes for all the tools my husband had accumulated, I kept saying, I’m sorry! Finally, it dawned on me. Practically speaking, if I don’t know what it is, how would I ever use it? All those things were a connection and snap, they were gone. Do I miss my husband more? No, and my simplified life is helping me to cope! Marie

    • Oh Mary, sending hugs! The end of this month will be a year for me. I have a whole storage unit of tools I can not identify!! I can’t seem to get rid of it.

    • I feel for you, Mary. My husband died just over a year ago, also suddenly, also leaving lots of paperwork. It was 10 months later that I spent a day organising the garage. I threw some things away, kept others even though I know I will never use them – I may not know what they all are, but at least I now know where they are! I find I need to do the clearing out in small stages. My new mantra is “one thing at a time”.

    • Mary,congratulations on getting rid of unidentified tools I took the first step and called habitat for humanity to see if they wanted some. Apparently they don’t want 20 bins of assorted nuts, bolts, screws, but would be interested in 2 routers, compound mitre saw, and seven or so drills. Plus lots of things I might know what they are. Trying to purge over the next six months so I could think about selling.

  21. I Want to congratulate myself on becoming a better person after losing my husband this past September. It will be one year in a few weeks and I am a totally different person than I was. I packed up my life and dog and moved from Texas to Florida to be near the sea. I went back to school and got a CNA license and am now making a difference in others lives. Yes I have my horrible dark grief attack days but I’m finding that I’m starting to have more good days than bad. I see that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am brave. I am blessed I am not alone, even in my darkest moments. I have finally stopped looking at every thing as before Bill died/ after Bill died and starting accept that I need to live for now. I need to live, I’m still here . This is my new life, my new reality. Im proud that I survived.

    • Congratulations! !! You are taking care of yourself. I’m proud of you.

    • Wow Stef! It sounds like their was buried inner strength that came to the surface after Bill died. My wife died suddenly although she was ill, but regardless of the timing, I have made an effort to be happy. I believe happiness takes work which takes inner strength and action. I believe I have been dumped overboard into a sea of sorrow, and I could just lay there or swim to shore. I am swimming. The shore is not that close, but I am doing the work (trying to be mentally, emotionally, and physically fit) to make it to shore. I am hopeful that I make it. And being hopeful is a powerful motivator as is having friends and family wanting you to succeed. Bless you, and congratulations on your progress.

      • Yes, I know how hard it can be. Hang in there Steve. Reach out to those around you when you need support. You are not alone. Very best wishes!

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