Not long ago I learned that a very good friend’s husband was hit by a bus and left in critical condition only to pass away shortly after. He was a great man with a sweet soul and a gentle nature. He loved his animals, his wife, and kids, and seemed to always have a smile for you when in his presence. When I heard the news, I initially felt resistance to the sadness as I had so much to do that day and didn’t feel like I had time to feel it. My body was starting to feel tense and I noticed irritability arising. A little thought arose, “maybe you should just take some time to feel this, the other stuff can wait.” I found a picture of him online and stared at it for a few moments and then I realized, “I need to feel this” and just let it be. After spending some moments letting the tears roll down, the tension and irritability melted away, I began to feel much more connected to myself and more compassion and empathy arose for my friend who lost her husband.
Mindful grieving informs us to allow ourselves to feel what is there, without judgment. For me, there was sadness there and I needed to nonjudgmentally acknowledge it, feel it, and let it be. It was important in that moment that I didn’t resist it or strive to make it any different, but just feel it as it was.
The truth is that feeling grief means we’re alive, and being alive means grieving loved ones who pass. Grief is a natural part of the human experience.
While many will relay common grieving experiences, every grieving experience is unique as it’s in relationship to different relationships lost. If you or someone you know has lost someone you know that grief may be something that doesn’t completely go away, but instead evolves and weaves into your life, lessening during some hours and making its presence known during others. No one can truly predict how long grief will last, but we do know one thing, it is a natural and important process in remembering and feeling the connection to those who have passed. The intensity of the grief informs us how deeply we can feel for ourselves and for others. It informs us of the deep love we have in our hearts.
Poet Kahlil Gibran informs us, “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Here are 7 mindful tips to help during this time:
- If you are mourning for a recent loss make sure to make time for feeling the emotions that arise, whether they are anger, sadness, or pain. There is no need to judge these emotions as good or bad and know that it is Ok to feel these and they will not last forever as all things come and go. You may even create a little ritual where you spend time with the picture or object connected to the person who has passed.
- Friends sometimes get uncomfortable around grief and if they try and make you feel better in the moment, thank them for this, and let them know it is normal and natural to feel how you feel.
- Make sure to also take care of yourself during this time. Go out on a walk, make sure to eat healthy, or take some playful and creative Mindful Living Classes.
- Try and open your eyes to the delights around you. It could be a smile on a child’s face or your own. Smelling a wonderful flower or maybe tasting your own favorite food. Even in the midst of grief we can be open to the wonders of life.
- Know your limits and allow yourself to take a break from feeling when it’s becoming overwhelming, but make sure to let your grief know that you will come back. Make a time to revisit it; otherwise it will occupy you all day. Taking time for self-compassion is key. You may even want to look into a formal 8-week Mindfulness Self-Compassion Class.
- Being altruistic can be a great way to move through grief. Maybe you would like to volunteer at a homeless shelter or make some things for those you care about.
- Support has been known to be very helpful and so joining a grief or support group either online or in person can be enormously supportive.
More than anything treat yourself with love and kindness during this time. The grief will seem more acute during some times and more subtle during others. May you know deeply, “this too shall pass.”
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles where you can find classes and groups focusing on integrating mindfulness and compassion into daily life. He is a psychologist, speaker and author who has published numerous articles, chapters, and blogs, including Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn and MBSR Every Day. He synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing. He has his private practice in West Los Angeles, California.