Sleep is such a precarious yet precious thing. We need it to function, feel terrible when we don’t have it and trying to get it is like trying to find gold in the desert. I used to be such a light sleeper before Tony. Maybe it was from being a single gal for a while or hearing all the scary stories of home invasions or all the horror movies I loved so much catching up to me. When Tony came into my life, for the first time in all of my adult life I slept deeply and soundly. Having him next to me was such a comfort of love and safety.
My relationship with sleep has dramatically changed with grief as I imagine so has yours. At first, all I wanted to do was sleep. I wished with all of my power that I would fall asleep and wake up to find out that it was all a nightmare. I would spend so much energy wanting to sleep death away. Grief was so exhausting to me that I found that when nighttime came I would crash. Unfortunately, I would be plagued with dreams (dreams…another blog post that I will get to).
This crashing lasted a couple of weeks until it stopped. What showed up next was insomnia. I would be physically exhausted and yet sleep was elusive. I would lay awake in my bed, alone and lonely, and wish for the oblivion of sleep. No matter how much I prayed, wished or begged, sleep evaded my every move.
The only thing that worked was…..visualization. I got into the habit of visualizing the beach. The waves crashing, the slow ebb and flow of the ocean, the sound of waves and a slight breeze and the warm sun on my skin. I held on to this image with desperation and it worked!! I was finally able to sleep. It felt like I had discovered a magical secret door to sleep.
I have been using that visualization ever since…simply because it works! It’s been 2 ½ years and it continues to work. I’m a true believer of the power of visualization. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated in any way or complicated. The truth is that it works best when you keep it simple and focus on your senses. What do you smell? What do you see? What do you feel? This is a simple and amazing grounding approach that can help in all situations, not just for sleep.
I know that sleep can be more complicated that what I have shared. In some circumstances, sleep medications are a God send. We assume that sleep is as natural as breathing, but the reality is that the biggest challenge to sleep is stress. And we all know that the one, of many, things that grief brings into your life is stress. I encourage you to take a deep breath and try out some visualizations. Where is your safe place? A place that brings you peace and perhaps not connected to too many memories. Hold that image in your mind and then blow it up….what do you feel? Smell? Hear? And continue to lose yourself in that image. It may or may not help, but I sure hope that at lease it brings you some moments of peace, because it sure has helped me a lot.
I wish you a good sleep!