Grief, our natural response to loss, is one of the hardest and most painful aspects of our human existence.
Grief can bring us to our knees, create the sense of a vast emptiness within us, and can prevent us from living our lives.
The deep sorrow one experiences as a result of a death loss of a loved one is incomparable.
The Journey of Grief
Grief is a journey and a highly personal process. Its duration and destination is unforeseeable. Our grief has no timetable or clear end. It is a non-linear process.
The goal is not to ‘get over it’ but rather to learn how to rebuild our lives in a way that we can live despite the loss we’ve suffered, and ultimately heal the invisible wounds of grief. The depth of our grief, or our emotional suffering, is reflected by the depth of our love and connection with our loved one.
While we may be inclined to ignore or run away from grief, because grief hurts, doing so actually causes more pain.
Our society tells us to ‘be strong’, which often means not showing emotion or crying because that would be ‘weak’. FACT: Experiencing emotion and outwardly expressing emotion is not a sign of weakness. In fact, the contrary is true.
Experiencing our emotions and sharing how we are feeling is one of the most courageous actions we can take. Respecting and honoring our feelings, our tears, and finding personal ways to express ourselves, normalizes human emotion for us and for others.
Feeling our feelings and allowing them to flow through us, crying included, is what helps us to move through our feelings and ultimately overcome our emotional pain.
Take Care of Yourself
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying that time heals grief. Actually, time alone is not what helps. Rather it is how we take care of ourselves and what we choose to do with our grief that aids us in our grief process.
There are common physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual symptoms of grief. Accepting our feelings, our mental and emotional symptoms, and finding ways to healthily express ourselves helps to alleviate our distress.
Cultivating an atmosphere of support from other people provides us with comfort and the community that is needed and helpful in processing and healing our grief. For some people it may be journaling, reading, talking with others, or taking walks that help reduce emotional pain. Regardless, one very important way we can all help to heal our grief is through mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a powerful and effective way to aid grief.
It provides us with the opportunity to be present, in the moment, noticing and accepting our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgement.
Practicing mindfulness techniques can help to cope with grief by helping us to tend to our emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs. By being mindful we can be better in-tune with what we are feeling moment by moment, allowing ourselves to feel our feelings as they arise rather than ignore them.
Take the time to quietly sit and be with your grief. Breathe into your grief and breathe through your grief. Breathing will help you stay grounded and present.
As you slowly begin to breathe, bring to mind your loss. Gently and tenderly let your feelings arise. Do not sensor whatever thoughts, feelings or images come to mind. Compassionately let whatever presents itself come as it will.
Feel as the waves of emotion wash over you, be it sadness, despair, anger, helplessness, or confusion, to name a few. Allow the emotion you are experiencing in that moment to flow through you, layer by layer. Notice what comes and goes inside of you as you breathe your way through.
Transforming and releasing our grief is often a long and tear-filled process. A good place to start is by letting your grief begin to unwind in your mind, your heart, and your soul. Listen to yourself and trust yourself in the unfolding of your grief. Do not fear your grief. Welcome it.
The more you sit with your grief and mindfully and intentionally experience the feelings of your grief, the more healing you will experience. Be aware of how your grief slowly transforms and your pain gently shifts over time. With practice and intention, notice how peace begins to present itself in the life you now live.
For more information, or to seek grief support read here.