Grief is an inevitable part of life, but how we approach it can make the difference between enormous agony and tender, delicate acceptance. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to grieving. What may pass quickly for some can take years for others.In reality, when we lose someone we have an emotional attachment to, the feeling of loss never truly passes. Rather, it becomes a part of our lives. Grief is a completely natural human response, and there are countless reasons to grieve. From losing a job, miscarriages to abusive relationships to losing a pet in life, grief has visited people in many ways.
There’s no right way to grieve, but there are ways to support the grieving process. It’s important to remember grief is normal and natural. The goal in using mindfulness while grieving is “to survive, to manage it, to cope with it, but not to fix it. Below are seven steps that may help you cope with grief mindfully:
Acknowledge and accept your feelings: Accepting how you feel is the first step to healing and the most essential in the process of mindful grieving. By allowing yourself to feel what you feel without judgment, you stop resisting your emotions. That means you can stop fighting what you feel. You also start to understand that grief is not a linear path with nice boxes to tick off. Rather, it’s a cycle. It may come in waves, ebbing and flowing without explanation. By understanding that, you can start to see that grief comes and goes.
Express yourself: Once you accept your feelings, you can give them a healthy outlet. This can include writing or journaling; art-making; exercising; talking and sharing; dancing; gardening; volunteering; cooking or baking and listening to or playing music.
While some individuals find relief by talking through their feelings, others don’t. It’s helpful to find a way to express your emotions so they don’t get stuck. For some, that may be a form of putting pen to paper, whether that’s by journaling, stream-of-consciousness writing, or “one line a day” writing. No matter which method speaks to you, self-expression is an important part of the grieving process.
You are not alone: Grief can be a lonely place. Whether every thought is consumed with your loss or it comes and goes, the truth is you are never alone in your grief. Grief is a universal experience. You are not alone in these feelings or your grieving process. You may even consider finding a grief support group
Meditation: Meditation is the simplest thing in the world, yet in practice, especially during times of loss, meditation may seem like an impossible task. Sitting with only your thoughts and emotions can be overwhelming. With practice, meditation can create a structured space to allow yourself to just be, feel, and accept. This creates a safe environment for your pain to simply exist, without resistance.
Healthy boundaries: When you are grieving, well-meaning friends and acquaintances may want to step in to help. While their hearts may be in the right place, it might not be what you need. If you are feeling overwhelmed by what they say or their visits, do not hesitate to politely decline them saying that you need the space and time alone for the time being.
Get ‘unstuck’: When it comes to grief, there’s no finish line. While grief may come and go, the loss remains. If you still get teary-eyed when someone you have lost comes up in conversation or in your thoughts years later, it doesn’t mean you are stuck. In fact, this may be a healthy expression of your continued love and appreciation for that person.
Things like changes in appetite and sleep disturbances can make surviving grief even harder. While it doesn’t mean you are “stuck,” some normal grief responses can negatively affect your life.
Tell your story: Speaking your truth about what happened and what your grieving process looks like can be incredibly powerful. In telling the truth about your own experience, that is how things change. Find places to tell the truth about your grief, and be ferocious about your rights to feel supported and honored in your own loss. Sharing your story not only honours your grief process. It honours the memory of your loved one as well.