3 Ways to Manage Grief With Mindfulness
There is no right or wrong when it comes to grief. Your grief can’t be shared by anyone else, because it’s personal to you. Nobody can really know exactly what your grief feels like.
Grief isn’t just about death. Changes in your life such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, moving, losing a job or changes in your health are all things that can cause us to grieve.
I recently lost my dad to cancer. He was a young 85 year old until about 8 months before his death when symptoms of the cancer began to incapacitate him. First I grieved over the loss of his vitality and the pain of watching him suffer. Then I grieved for his loss.
Grief Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
We grieve in different ways. Do not judge another’s grief until you walk a mile in their shoes. Crawling up into a fetal position on the floor is acceptable! If that’s what you feel like doing at the moment then by all means go for it. Watching old movies or looking at pictures of you with someone you lost with tears streaming down your face is cool too. Watching a funny movie to give yourself a break is ok. It’s all good.
Mindfulness Manages Grief
What has helped me navigate through my grief is mindful practices like Yoga. It brings me to the present moment, helps me feel strong and release any tension that might be festering in my body.
Mindfulness practices, such as Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing can help you manage your grief, so you can manage your life. Being present, which is what mindfulness is, can provide you with relief so you can work, socialize, sleep and feel alive.
Here are 3 mindful practices that you can use right now to help you get through your grief process with a little more ease:
1. Just breathe - It’s that simple. One breath can help you redirect to whatever you want to accomplish at that moment.
Simply Close your eyes, or stare at something in the room if closing your eyes is challenging for you. You could sit or lay down. Just be comfortable wherever you are (classroom, office, home).
Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and breathe out through your nose noticing the warmth of your breath as you breathe in and the coolness of the breathe as you breathe out.
Repeat as many times as you like or that you have time for. One breath is all it takes sometimes to help you recenter yourself, create calm and clear your mind.
2. Move mindfully - Whether you are taking a walk, practicing yoga or walking the halls of school, be present. Feel your body in space as you move. For example if you’re taking a walk, notice your feet on the ground - heel, toe. If you’re walking between classes, notice your breath as you walk and look into the eyes of the other students walking towards you. Really notice, without judgement. If you’re practicing Yoga, move with intention and focus.
3. Gratitude - When we are grieving, it’s hard to see the good. Finding the good in things helps to change your perspective and ease the pain. Start a gratitude journal and write one thing you are grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be as simple as, “I ate a yummy ham sandwich today,” or “I went 5 minutes today without being sad.” It is amazing how resilient we become when we look at the bright side of life.
No Time Limit on Grief
There is also no time limit on grief. There’s no grief calendar that says, “on this day in the future you can no longer grieve.” But, time will help ease the severity of the pain and one day, you will smile again.
However, it is important to your own health and wellness that each day you find a way to move forward. To let go of the past and come into the present. There is a time limit on life. We don’t live forever. Life is a gift, and you are worthy of that gift. So, grieve, but don’t throw your life away. Look through the loss and find the moments that brought you joy. Those moments will be with you forever.
One more thing I’d like to share that really helped me during the toughest moments after my dad died. It’s a poem sent to me by my dear friend, Sabine. It reminded me that It’s often in our friendships that we can find comfort and peace. Something I’ll always be grateful for.
When Will I Be Myself Again by Rabbi Lewis John Eron
When will I be myself again?”
Some Tuesday, perhaps, In the late afternoon,
Sitting quietly with a cup of tea,
And a cookie
Or Wednesday, same time or later,
You will stir from a nap and see him..
And you will not be frightened,
And you will not be sad,
And you will not be alone,
Not alone at all,
And your tears will warm you
But not today,
And not tomorrow,
And not tomorrow’s tomorrow
But some day,
Some Tuesday, late in the afternoon,
Sitting quietly with a cup of tea,
And a cookie;
And you will be yourself again.
These 3 mindful practices are accessible at no cost and requires very little time. We teach these practices in our Mindfulness for Teens Training for educators and Yoga teachers. If you are interested in participating in one of our upcoming trainings, email Phyllis Smith at phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com.
Phyllis Smith is Co-Founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga.
Her company specializes in mindfulness programs for adolescents and teens and those who serve them.
If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga programs, email Phyllis at Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com or call 214-497-7982.,