By Tris Throp
Grief can be one of the most difficult things to overcome and can make us feel like we’ve been thrown into an emotional storm. Grief, at its core, is overwhelming sadness caused by a loss of someone or something we love. Grief can take on many forms, such as:
Grief’s many forms have a way of holding us hostage in a sea of emotional despair for what feels like an eternity.
There is no template to follow when we lose someone or something that was deeply meaningful to us. Everybody experiences loss and grief differently and uniquely, and even the things we grieve about may vary. Russell Friedman, executive director of the Grief Recovery Institute, defines grief as the “conflicting feeling caused by a change or an end in a familiar pattern or behavior.” He adds that “grief isn’t limited to the death of a loved one or even traditionally recognized losses such as divorce.”
“We’re talking about loss as the real or perceived deprivation of something one considers meaningful,” says Keren Humphrey, a retired counseling professor and author of the book, Counseling Strategies for Loss and Grief. Humphrey says, “If it’s meaningful for me and I lose it, then it’s loss, whether you think it is or not.”
If you find yourself in a place of grieving, an important question to ask yourself is, “Have I grieved enough—culturally and personally?” Some cultures suggest there is a period of time one should spend in the grieving process. For others, it’s just a matter of moving through each day to the best of their ability and, in time, finding that the intensity of the emotion begins to lift.
Approaches to Resolving Grief
One of the things that (eventually) helps a person overcome grief is the recognition that the person who is no longer with us wouldn’t want us to be suffering. They would want us to remember the good times, to go about our lives and be happy, and to celebrate the love we shared.
Lack of resolution or completion is something that prevents the grief from releasing, both during the grieving process and long after. So how can we find resolution or completion without the other person being present? There is an ancient—and current—concept or technique to help us move through this process. It’s called forgiveness.
An approach to resolving grief is, first and foremost, to identify the emotion we’re feeling and to be still with it for however long we need to. Another technique to bring about completion is to overcome any blocks to remembering the positive things, by consciously choosing to place our awareness on the fond and fun memories. And, finally, to have any conversations that we need to have to bring closure to unexpressed communications.
This meditation can help you loosen the grip and begin to bring resolution to your grief.
Meditation for Grieving
Whenever you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with grief for the loss of a loved one, take a few minutes to sit in stillness by following these meditation steps.
- Find a comfortable place to sit upright where you won’t be disturbed for 15 to 20 minutes. Make yourself comfortable with pillows or a blanket.
- Begin to breathe slowly and deeply, and place your attention on how you are feeling—both emotionally and physically. Try not to analyze what you are feeling and rather, just be in the experience. Acknowledge your emotions in a gentle and loving way.
- Imagine the face of the person you are grieving. You may think of it as a manifestation of their spirit or just see it as a memory in your mind.
- Now, consider anything that needs to be said or forgiven and begin to have a conversation with them. Visualize this happening in your mind, now. Spend a few minutes saying whatever it is that you need to say from your heart. Then hear them saying whatever they need to say to you from their heart. Tell them you forgive them and hear them tell you that they forgive you, too. Focus on the conversation taking place in a loving and compassionate way—a giving and receiving of open, loving communication with this person.
- Next, focus in on any one of the most positive memories you can bring to mind with this person and immerse yourself in this memory. Relive the happy, fun times and the deep connections that you shared, knowing that what allows grief to release is positive, happy moments.
- When you are finished, take a few slow, deep breaths. Sit quietly for a few minutes and bring your meditation to an end. Do this meditation as often as you need to and know that you can always return to this space whenever you want to feel at peace.
The grieving process takes time. There is no quick or easy way out of the pain and suffering that we endure as a result of losing someone or something that we love dearly. Yet, it is important to feel the emotions as they are moving through us rather than avoiding or burying them. Pretending that we’re fine when we’re not is how we suppress emotional pain that will later show up as any number of physiological symptoms down the road.
As Michael Brown said in his book, The Presence Process: A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness, “The only way out is through, and the only way through is in.”The best thing you can do is to honor yourself as you move through your process by practicing self-compassion and tending to your grief in an honest and gentle way.