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Mindfulness and Grief

My ex-husband’s death was so shocking and ungrounding that I cried every day for months. The grief and confusion that followed felt all-encompassing for me, impacting my emotions, my mood, my relationships, my work performance and my sleep. I wondered why he killed himself, and why he never came to me. I wondered what other’s thought and how our family would survive. I questioned my faith, angry at a God that could let something like this happen. And I worried where his soul went. I spent hours worried and full of concern for our children, wondering how this would impact them for the rest of their lives. No one really knew how complex the grief was because many have not lived through a suicide loss. When I was around others, I would always work exceptionally hard to pull myself together to look and act like everyone else.

I’ve since learned, through my own work and education around this, that deep grief has many layers to it. And that it can take a long time to move through. Support helps, such as counseling, coaching, writing, exercise, prayer, art, or meditation. But the process and experience of grief and it’s landscape of loss is very different for each person.

These days, I am surprised to find myself drawn to mindfulness as I shift my work and focus on other’s grief. The grieving widow is taking a back seat now and the healer is reemerging. Helping others requires a centering and intentional empathic focus on the energy itself. It requires concentration, presence and unconditional positive regard. I have learned to express gratitude and appreciation for those moments when someone shares something so deeply profound with me. I sit with people in silence as they mourn. I feel the deep grief with them as sadness encompasses the space between us. I send them prayers and wishes for healing when I can. And I practice forgiveness.

I have learned that before I can really show up for others, I must be fully present with my own grief, my own mind, and my own healing. I must know where my energy is and what it is doing. I’ve learned not to coach when I’m exhausted or sleep deprived, even though I can physically show up. I know not to ignore that nagging feeling of restlessness because it will show up whether I want it to or not. I know not to talk about my loss because it shifts the focus away from the other, the soul that needs support and attention in that moment. I know if I bring up the unreconciled feelings around the suicide, it will distract me and take me away from my client’s work. So I practice mindfulness. I practice presence. I practice non-judgment. And I practice peace.

Every day now. It’s a work in progress as they say. Ongoing. Done in a steady way, one step, then another. Slowly moving forward. Slowly evolving.

The moments of awakening that happen when I do are really lovely. I’m feeling a more organic appreciation for things. I’m aware of my choices, wanting my impact in the world to be a positive thing. I’m consciously choosing my path. I’m learning how to take notice of things, how to observe without judgement, how to temper the part of myself that is impatient and already three steps ahead. I seek curiosity about my judgement. I’m becoming aware how I launch distracting thoughts in my mind that take me out of the present moment. I’m learning how to accept where I am in this moment, right here and now. And how to be with that. Coming out of years of grief from a deep loss and moving into this space, with this type of energy as a result has been grounding and affirming. It’s peaceful and energizing. I often feel centered after an exercise, and calm, in a way I haven’t been before. I feel more focused and intentional. I am less distracted by emotions, or random thoughts that can enter my mind and take over. And I am able to accomplish more without that monkey mind they often talk of wasting precious energy.

And I am learning to let go, as I turn my attention to how I can help others, which may include helping them find mindfulness in the midst of their grief and loss. I peacefully surrender it to the vast universe around us. The universe that was here long before we were, where our ancestors live. With a vibrancy and vitality that lives in us and around us.

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