I don’t find myself at funerals often: My grandfather, with whom I was always close and for whom I was a daytime caregiver during the final year of his dementia, died five years ago. But from miscarriages to abusive relationships to an ADHD diagnosis, grief has visited me in many ways. Luckily, I have been able to access the quiet power of mindfulness to help me digest the pain.
According to Mindful Communications, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing, you’re being mindful.
The most common misunderstanding about grief is that it’s a “problem” that needs to be “fixed.” Mindfulness is all about dealing with whatever comes up — good or bad — making it an ideal companion for healthy grieving.
Acknowledge and accept your feelings. While it might not be easy, accepting how you feel is the first step to healing and the most essential in the process of mindful grieving. By allowing yourself to feel what you feel without judgment, you stop resisting your emotions.
Know you’re not alone. Whether every thought is consumed with your loss or it comes and goes, the truth is you’re never alone in your grief. Strive to be aware of your feelings, and remember that you’re not alone in these feelings or in your grieving process.
Try grief-focused meditation. Sitting with only your thoughts and emotions can be overwhelming. But with practice, confronting them with meditation can create a structured space to allow yourself to just be, feel, and accept.
Express yourself. You can sometimes feel like you’re “stuck” in your grief. If you still get teary-eyed when your loss comes up in conversation or even your thoughts, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck — it’s a healthy expression of your continued love and appreciation. And sharing your story not only honors your grief process, it honors the memory of your loved one as well.
When does grief become dangerous? Be on the lookout for addictive behaviors; extreme isolation; thoughts of suicide or self-harm; or long-term inability to acknowledge or talk about your loss. Sort through your emotional baggage with a professional.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to grieving. When we lose someone or something to which we are emotionally attached (even a job you hated!), the feeling of loss never truly passes. But with the help of mindfulness, healthy bereavement can be an empowering, growth-inducing part of your being.