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Self-kindness and Grief

I recently came back from a trip abroad. I brought back with me some small locally-sourced souvenirs for my family, a fridge magnet and a post card for myself (as per my usual custom) and some site-specific requested items for a friend. As I was heading through the terminal to reach my first gate (first of three different airports with tight connections between the flights which would not allow me the luxury of further duty-free shopping) I passed through the duty-free shop, as I had a bit of time to pass (the airport lounge didn’t open for another 15 minutes). It contained the usual items- snacks, alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products, some textiles, jewelry, watches, fragrances, beauty products, tech gadgets and the like. I looked at a display of items from a perfumier that I wished I had had the opportunity to visit in person. It struck me then, that other than the cheap fridge magnet and a post card, I hadn’t bought anything for myself. I debated- was it a need or a want? I could afford it, but could I justify the indulgence after all the other upgrades I had “allowed” myself on this vacation? It was so easy to pick up items for others, why was I having such difficulty being kind to myself? It was only a box of scented soaps. In the end, I did pick up the item, paid for it, and tucked it into my carry-on baggage.

When I got home, I reflected on what to do with these soaps. Should I use them? Should I save them for display in my bathroom? This led me to more reflection- why do I save things other people give me and not enjoy them. Why wouldn’t I want to experience the joy from that gifted item? Afterall, they bought it for me to enjoy. What am I saving them for? The online article Use Up the Things You Tend to Save for Special Occasions (see source) explores this dilemma. “We tend to reserve certain things, such as “the good china,” expensive suits, or even fancy soaps for special occasions. The Art of Simple, however, argues that we should use these special things we hesitate to “use up” more often.”

Buying these soaps was an expression of self-kindness. Self-kindness can take many forms, but it is not always easy to do. As Eleanor Haley states in her article (see source) “…practicing self-kindness is an art. It requires a person to identify what they need and to claim their right to have it.”

 It is particularly important to be kind to yourself when grieving. Pampering yourself can remind you how to feel good after dealing with a negative or tragic situation. So, find something in your house that you were saving for a special occasion and use it now. It might even start to bring you back to a place where you can appreciate all the positive things that life has to offer.

In conclusion, show yourself self-kindness. It doesn’t matter what stage of grief you are in, self-kindness matters. It’s so much easier to be kind to others than to ourselves. Grief requires kindness, and in particular, self kindness.


Source Up the Things You Tend to Save for Special Occasions, by Melanie Pinola, April 9, 2016


https://mentalhealthmatch.comPracticing Self-Compassion While Grieving, BY NIKKI SCOTT, JUNE 24, 2023

It’s OK That You’re Not OK, by Megan Devine

If I Had to Live My Life Over” by Erma Bombeck



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