When my husband Collin was diagnosed with leukemia, I suddenly found myself in the role of a caregiver. Balancing the responsibilities of being a wife, a mom, and caring for my chronically ill husband felt like trying to untangle a messy ball of yarn. This struggle persisted throughout the 18 months of his illness. After his death, I faced the challenge of figuring out how to best be present and support my four grief-stricken children.

The societal expectations of our culture made me believe that prioritizing my family above all else was the only way to measure up. Little did I know, that adhering to this notion only led me down a bumpy road filled with feelings of inadequacy, frustration, shame, and fear.

For a good while, I wrestled with the idea that my family’s needs always had to come before mine. The unspoken rule that taking care of myself was selfish haunted my every move during the grieving process.

It wasn’t until I started to put my own oxygen mask on first, and I gave myself permission to rethink what self-care really meant that things started to shift. I realized that putting my healing first wasn’t just okay; it was necessary. And you know what? This shift set the stage for a cozy space where my family and I could start healing together.

Here’s a little nugget of truth that might rub some folks the wrong way: putting yourself first isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s the first step to creating a space where both you and those you care for can start healing and feeling some relief from the overwhelming feelings and emotions of grief.

So, I kicked off this journey by admitting my own pain and giving myself the same love I’d easily hand out to others. It wasn’t about being selfish; it was about keeping myself together. Slowly but surely, I tore down the walls that were keeping me from putting my healing front and center.

As the fog of what I should be doing lifted, I saw the real impact that focusing on myself had on supporting my grieving children.  Surprise, surprise – taking care of yourself doesn’t make you a selfish monster. If anything, it turns you into a superhero for your family.

Now, choosing to put myself first didn’t happen without its challenges. It meant flipping my perspective, ditching the idea that sacrifice and being selfless were the only ways to go.  But you know what? It worked. I broke free from the grip of feeling awful and demonstrated to my family that it’s perfectly okay to prioritize myself.

So remember, putting yourself first isn’t a selfish move, it’s an act of love. By tending to my own needs, I kickstarted a wave of healing that didn’t just stop with me – it reached my children too.  So, my friend, here’s your gentle reminder to refill your cup; because you can’t pour from an empty vessel. 

What can you do today to take a brave step toward creating a space where you and your loved ones can start RISING?