The Link Between Self Care and Grief Recovery

In this month’s blog, Grief and Growth Coach Gabi Gilliland, CPC, ACC, speaks about the grieving process and the benefits of cranio-sacral therapy (CST) in grief recovery. CST is a gentle, yet powerful treatment modality that helps reverse the negative physical effects grief can have on the body. It allows stresses, strains, and tensions brought on by grief to heal, restoring proper functioning in the body.

Grief and Powerlessness

When you experience grief, you’re not just coping with sadness, shock, and heartbreak. You’re coping with feelings of utter powerlessness. Put simply, a “loss” is a change that you didn’t want and didn’t choose. When you encounter loss, it’s a sobering reminder that life is unpredictable, and you’re not necessarily calling all the shots. Even if you know these things deep down, being reminded of them in such an abrupt way can leave you feeling like you’re no longer in the driver’s seat of your life. You feel like you’re at the mercy of whatever happens to you.

During grief, you might find yourself longing for the moment when your life “makes sense” again. This is especially true if you’ve lost someone or something that made up a significant part of your everyday life, like a spouse, parent, or even a career. Life ceases to “make sense” because it’s been reconfigured by loss, which has shoved you out of your comfort zone.

Finding Meaning in Life Again

You hear stories about people being positively transformed by loss, but when your own grief feels so all-encompassing, it can be difficult to imagine how you, too, can grow and find meaning in life again.

When it comes to reclaiming your life after loss, where do you even begin? The answer might surprise you.

Self Care and Grief Recovery

As a grief coach, I partner with people who want to find meaning in their experience of loss, but feel stuck and helpless. One of the first things I do is draw their attention to their self-care routines. Why? Because these routines are a critical foundation, not only for coping with acute grief (which is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining), but for paving the way to personal transformation: rebuilding their lives in a way that aligns with their needs, values, and goals.

In other words, getting back into the driver’s seat of your life starts with taking care of yourself, and reclaiming routines that truly serve you and reflect your needs. To do this, I want you to think about how you define self-care. What does it consist of? Your list might include things like sleep, nutrition, and exercise, for example.

The key to building successful routines is to start with small, highly attainable steps. From the list you made, pick the item that you feel needs the most attention. What’s ONE thing that you can do, today, to improve that aspect of your self-care? For example, let’s say you chose sleep. One thing you could do today is dedicate an hour for a nap. Or, perhaps you could set a time in the evening when you’ll begin getting ready for sleep, to ensure that you’re in bed by a certain hour. Slowly, with small steps, you’ll develop a mindful approach to each aspect of your self-care, and build routines that not only support you, but restore your sense of autonomy, and give you the energy you need to be there for others who might depend on you.

Benefits of Cranio-Sacral Therapy in Grief Recovery

For me, the decision to seek cranio-sacral therapy was one I made during my own experience with grief. One of my biggest self-care struggles was stress relief and relaxation, and the regular cranio-sacral work that I’ve received over the past few years has done wonders to release tension, improve my lymphatic system, and more. The positive effects extend beyond just “feeling better.” Less stress means my days are more productive, and I communicate better with my husband, friends, and my coaching clients. I think more clearly, which helps me when it comes to making decisions, both big and small. It’s truly empowering.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy in NH

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the benefits of cranio-sacral therapy in grief recovery, contact Allyssa Bedard, LMT.

About Gabi Gilliland

Gabi Gilliland is a grief and growth coach. Through her coaching practice, The Illuminated Chapter, she partners one-on-one with her clients to help them discover their own unique strategies for coping with grief, and moving forward with their lives in a way that aligns with what they need, what they value, and who they are. Gabi is a graduate of the International Coach Academy and is a member of the International Coach Federation. She lives and works in New Hampshire, and can be reached via her website,


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