We’ve all been there, we’ve all lost something in the journey of life…a person we love, a home, or maybe a job. We’ve all had to deal with change at one time or another. This brings me to the topic of mindful grieving. Grief enters your life when you lose something or face change. It can be as difficult as the death of a loved one, or as exciting as landing your dream job. You see, even when you move on to bigger and better things you’re always leaving something else behind, good or bad. You always lose something when you gain something else.
Grief becomes even more complicated when you factor in all of the emotions that come with feelings of loss and discomfort. It’s extremely important to process the emotions you feel and face the grief. Otherwise, you risk seeking other, often destructive, ways of dealing with the pain. For example, you can be both happy that you are offered a new opportunity, while at the same time sad to see your current activities become part of your past. This is a normal processing of loss. Anger and numbness are two ways people often cover up their sadness. Feel the emotions without demand or expectation. Remember that everyone experiences and processes grief in a different way, so you may not be able to comfort everyone at all times.
The first stage of grief is denial so what you’re supposed to do initially is acknowledge the loss, really feel it deep in your heart and soul. In stage two you’ll start to feel a sense of anger. Anger is a very powerful emotion and it’s easy to become stuck in this particular state if your anger isn’t processed thoroughly. If you don’t attend to your anger and you let it linger, then you end up avoiding the next stage in the grieving process, which is sadness. Sadness is a painful emotion, it’s uncomfortable. People tend to think that if they let go of the sadness then it means they no longer care about the issue at hand, which isn’t true. It actually means you’re moving into the resolution stage, acceptance and understanding of the loss. This is a good thing.
You may be thinking, okay I get the stages, but what happens when I try to go through the process and get stuck? Some tips that have worked for others is mindful grounding to the present moment, touching objects around you which makes the present real. Becoming fully engaged in the present moment refocuses your mind away from ruminations and memories and back into processing and feeling. It’s actually quite simple when you break it down, feel what you feel and trust in your emotions, but don’t get sidetracked by them. Emotions are just experiences and ties to the present, thinking is what keeps emotions alive and what gives them fuel to stick around longer than they should. Same thing goes for avoidance, avoid avoidance, feel your emotions and give them your full attention. It becomes dangerous and is unhealthy when you start to become numb to your emotions. One tip is to write a grief letter (without the intention of sending it) so that you can process your emotions on paper and transfer them from your head to your notebook. It’s also important to comfort one another when we see someone who may be struggling with grief, loss or change.
Also, be careful of the messaging coming from others around you when going through the grieving process. Sometimes people get caught up telling you how they reacted to a situation or how they felt during their loss, instead of just lending an ear to listen and acknowledging your feelings. It’s okay in this instance to shut down the conversation and continue through your own process of mindful grieving. When you are able to talk about your loss without becoming excessively emotional then experts say you are on the path to recovery.
Fully processing grief also allows you to give attention to the good memories and positive aspects of the loss or change that is occurring. Give it a shot. I hope you find some helpful tips in this blog post and are able to give your emotions the attention they deserve.