my key to defeating grief is a good routine, orchid, notebook, MacBook, glasses, lost peony, mark alexander
My key to defeating grief is a good routine. Photo: Mark Alexander @lostpeony

Of course I still have my down days and moments when I miss my partner but they are few and far between. I know myself so well now, that I am able to turn my grief off if it resurfaces at an inconvenient time. Much the same as when the car engine cuts off as I apply the brakes at the traffic lights. To me, that equals defeating grief.

This year is by far the best, in terms of personal development and contentment since the death of my partner – precisely 33 months ago. I am calm, content, confident and happy with myself, my life and my plans for the future. Everything makes sense and, for once, I feel in control of my life.

There are many contributing factors to achieving that state of being but they all have one thing in common: they are part of routines. Yes, my key to defeating grief is having a good routine. Let me illustrate that with examples of three different routines associated with three very different states of being over the past couple of years:

The summer of 2016

This summer saw me at my happiest. Not just since the death of my partner but since I’m old enough to care about these things. My main goal was to get into the habit of writing and publish articles on Lost Peony regularly… and I did. It was much easier than I thought and the fact that I was doing something that I liked, and helping others in the process, made me very happy indeed.

Here is the “secret formula” to my happiness and to defeating grief:

An early gym session + healthy breakfast + work + healthy lunch + more work + a walk + drive in the car + healthy supper + write in my gratitude journal + early night = Happy, Healthy, Productive

That was my routine for months. It became second nature to me and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt.

The autumn of 2016

This autumn was probably the most important time in relation to my career and moving forward with my life. I needed to put the finishing touches to my book and publish it. That was my main goal and that’s exactly what I did. This time, my routine was slightly different:

Breakfast + work + lunch + work + supper + glass of Prosecco + late going to bed = Anxious, Tired, Distracted

As you can see, there is no gym, no walks, no drives in the car and no gratitude journal. I also switched to shop-bought sandwiches for lunch and ready meals for supper. I felt anxious to finish my book and I allowed myself a glass of Prosecco in the evenings to help me relax.

I was productive and I did my work but I didn’t feel good and I didn’t enjoy it.

Despite that though, I am very happy that I finished my book. It is arguably one of my biggest achievements to date and certainly the biggest since the death of my partner. I am very happy about that and even happier that Me, my grief and I reached the No1 Best Seller spot on Amazon in its category.

The first year of grieving the death of my partner

As you can imagine, this was the most testing time for me. I was a broken man and everything was a struggle. I shall never forget what I went through. I have a very vivid memory of my routine from that time:

Coffee and cigarettes for breakfast + worrying + crying + feeling helpless and sorry for myself + sandwich for lunch or no lunch (mostly no lunch) + more coffee, energy drinks and cigarettes + more worrying, crying, feeling helpless and sorry for myself + McDonalds or pizza for supper + more cigarettes + a beer + more cigarettes + very late going to bed + more worrying and crying in bed = Unhappy, Sad, Tired, Scared

I spent all of my early grieving days like that. I felt as sad and miserable as you could imagine. I couldn’t see a way out of it and, quite honestly, I didn’t want to even think about that. As far as I was concerned at the time, my life stopped – there and then.

It took me almost two and a half years to start living again and become the person that I am today. My key to defeating grief is a good routine, like the one I followed this summer.

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