BEREAVEMENT, PERI-MENOPAUSE & MENOPAUSE
The stages of menopause and peri-menopause can be difficult for many but throw grief and bereavement in as well and things can at times feel overwhelming! In this blog, Sophie, our Wellbeing Therapist and Karen, who supports parents supporting grieving children, offer some thoughts and tips on how to manage this time.
‘If you are reading this and are in need of some support with both of these life challenges you are not alone. So many clients speak about how difficult it can be handling their grief alongside the peri menopause & menopause. We at Edward’s Trust thought it would be helpful to pay this subject some attention. Of course, the holistic approach is one that may demand some lifestyle changes which we can all find difficult, especially when we are grieving. However, the wellbeing service can help you in making these changes and finding out what works for you personally. We are here for you and hear that this is a real difficulty for so many people.
** It may also be useful to know that this article can absolutely refer to the hormonal changes that occur for men in midlife too. Although it is not classed as the menopause, some men will experience dips/changes in their hormones in midlife. But for the most part, these are relatively small, unless there is an actual deficiency in testosterone. So, the reasons for possible changes in the body, mood and energy levels for men may well be rooted in something else. Perhaps anxiety or depression. Which as we know are quite commonly linked with grief.
The following information therefore can absolutely be used by anyone who is trying to manage their mental health, grief and the physical symptoms of hormonal changes in the body.
The loss of a loved one that can be incredibly challenging to cope with. Simultaneously experiencing the perimenopause, a transitional phase leading up to menopause, can further complicate the grieving process. The peri-menopause is characterized by hormonal fluctuations, physical changes, and emotional challenges, making it essential to address the unique needs of individuals in this stage of life who are also dealing with bereavement. In this article, we will explore the intersection of bereavement and the peri-menopause/menopause and provide valuable tips to help cope with these dual challenges.
Bereavement is a deeply personal experience that affects individuals in various ways. It can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, and even physical symptoms. While grief is a natural response to loss, the grieving process can be different for everyone. It’s crucial to acknowledge and accept your emotions, allowing yourself the time and space to heal.
The peri-menopause is a transitional phase that typically occurs in the late 30s or 40s, leading up to menopause—the end of reproductive years. During this time, hormonal changes can wreak havoc on emotions, sleep patterns, energy levels, and overall well-being. The combination of bereavement and perimenopause/ menopause can amplify the emotional roller coaster, making it crucial to prioritize self-care and seek support.
Top Tips for Coping through diet, exercise, and personal self-care.
Self-Compassion: Remember to be kind to yourself and allow for moments of vulnerability. Recognize that you are navigating two significant life events simultaneously, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or not have all the answers. Practice self-compassion by offering understanding and acceptance to your emotions and needs.
Seek Support: Reach out to a support system that understands your unique circumstances.
Consider joining grief support groups or seeking counselling to process your emotions and gain valuable insights.
Take a look at what Wellbeing therapy at Edward’s Trust can offer you in terms of supporting your physical symptoms of both grief and hormonal changes within your body.
As Wellbeing therapist I (Sophie) can help you build new routines and habits into your life at a steady and kind pace, altering and adjusting your selfcare plan in each session.
Prioritize Self-Care: Take care of your physical and emotional well-being by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Engage in regular exercise, prioritize nutritious meals, and ensure you are getting enough restful sleep. Engaging in activities you enjoy or relaxation techniques like meditation, can help reduce stress and promote overall well-being.
Menopause Top Tips for Diet and Wellbeing.
- Colourful fruit and vegetables
- These provide soluble and insoluble fibre to your diet. Insoluble helps with digestion, soluble helps feed the microbes in your digestive tract. These microbes can help regulate the inflammatory response (to reduce joint pain etc).
- Fruit and Veg are a great source of B and C vitamins that can help with energy production, hormone imbalance and managing stress.
Recommended intake 5-7 servings a day 5 veg and 2 fruit!
Eat regularly (every 3-4 hours).
- Helps maintain blood sugar levels. When we rely on coffee and sugar to raise our energy levels it sends our blood sugar through extreme ups and downs. This can trigger symptoms such as hot flushes, headaches, nausea, migraine, fatigue, and mood swings.
Eat a balanced diet.
- Complex carbohydrates: root vegetables, or whole grains like oats or brown rice.
- Tip – roast a tray or parsnips/carrots and sweet potatoes to snack on throughout the day.
- Protein: egg, fish, nuts, seeds, beans yoghurt.
- Fats: fatty fish, olive oil (on your root vegetables!), butter, coconut oil or hempseed oil.
Protein and fat slow down the breakdown and release of sugars from your carbohydrates – keeping your energy lasting for longer.
- Can be a major trigger to menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, mood swings and anxiety.
- Try swapping your caffeinated hot drinks for herbal teas or decaf!
Mimic oestrogen in your diet.
Phytoestrogens are oestrogen-like compounds derived from plants.
- Ground flax
- Chickpeas, kidney beans
- Sprouted alfalfa
- Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds…. Great to sprinkle on your salads/cereal or stir fry.
- Broccoli, Brussel sprouts and Kale
Explore Therapeutic Techniques: Incorporate therapeutic techniques into your routine to manage stress and emotional well-being. These can include mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, journaling, or engaging in creative outlets like art or music. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.
Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about the perimenopause and the grieving process. Understanding the physical and emotional changes you may experience can help you prepare and develop effective coping strategies. Consult reliable sources, read books on the subject (see below) and speak to medical professionals to gain valuable insights. You may want to consider HRT, but please seek medical advice.
Professional Guidance: If you find your grief or perimenopausal symptoms significantly impacting your daily life, consider seeking professional guidance. Mental health professionals and healthcare providers can offer specialized support, prescribe appropriate treatments if necessary, and help you navigate this challenging period.
Bereavement and the perimenopause are complex life events that can significantly impact an individual’s emotional and physical well-being.
By implementing some of the above suggestion’s, individuals can navigate the journey of bereavement and the peri-menopause with greater resilience, understanding, and compassion for themselves.’
Resources Here are some suggested further resources about the menopause and peri-menopause:
The M Word – Dr Philippa Kaye
Second Spring – Kate Codrington
https://www.balance-menopause.com/ – Dr Louise Newson