Grief is an overwhelming process, but you can find your way back to happiness with the right support and mindfulness tools in place.
By providing a space for healing, mindfulness allows you so much more than just relief from the pain of grief. Choosing to practice mindful techniques can help bring about new perspectives on what’s possible after losing a loved one.
What is mindfulness in grief?
Mindfulness in grief is the practice of being present with your thoughts and feelings without judgment or adding anything to them. In practice, you observe your thoughts like watching a yacht sail into view, pass by and then disappear.
Similarly, mindfulness in grief is about allowing yourself to be with your grief and allowing emotions to sail into view rather than trying to push them away or numb yourself.
In time, the practice of observing emotions sailing into view and then allowing them to pass by without judgement or adding to them becomes a refuge where your mind can take a break and recharge your emotional batteries.
One technique known as mindful breathing can help you enter a more relaxed state of mind. The aim is to focus on your breathing without trying, expecting or hoping for particular outcomes. As a result, the rhythm of air as it enters and leaves your body sends a calming message to your nervous system. Meanwhile, your mind stays in the present moment. This combined effect gives you a greater sense of control, increased self-awareness, a superior sense of calm and improved resilience in the face of grief.
Timed mindful gazing
Another great way to deal with loss is with timed mindful gazing. In this practice, you devote 15 minutes to holding an item belonging to your departed loved one. Be it a photograph, piece of clothing or jewellery, the idea is to acknowledge whatever feelings or thoughts arise without judgement.
Grief is a time to heal and find peace. By routinely making space in your day for grieving, you give your mind a healthy way to let out bottled up emotions.
You may be experiencing anxiety because you’re worried that memories of your departed loved one are fading. But what if there was a way to strengthen the connection between yourself and your dearly departed?
Mindful thinking involves engaging all five senses to help you remember your departed loved one better.
Start by holding a photo of your departed loved one close. Close your eyes and visualise cherished moments together; then talk about anything that comes into mind for 10 minutes or so – even things they might have said before passing.
Next, try to recall how detecting a hint of their favourite scent made you feel. Some people include playing their departed loved one’s favourite song in the background.
Using your five senses to trigger beautiful memories reassures you that the love you shared with your departed loved one will never be lost or forgotten even if they are no longer physically present in your life.
Too often, when someone close dies, they leave behind unresolved issues and words unspoken. As a result, regret and guilt can bother loved ones living for years after.
One technique that can help ease the pain of guilt and regret is writing letters to your departed loved one. Putting thoughts into words enables you to express what you would have liked to have done or said if they were still here with you. Drafting one or several letters is like having an emotional conversation with your departed loved one through writing.
Having an emotional conversation is important because your words help you forgive yourself. What’s more, when you speak positively and mindfully, your brain releases endorphins, giving you a sense of joy in life despite the challenges you face during grief.
Creating space to heal
Finding a way to connect with yourself and let mindful practices support your healing journey is essential to healing from grief. Over time, you’ll find the mind space you create becomes an oasis of solace, healing and rejuvenation.
The grief process can be challenging, but it’s not forever. With patience and kindness towards yourself, and by following these steps, you’ll continue to move forward until you find happiness once again.
Accept your feelings
Allow yourself to accept how your body and mind feel, rather than denying or judging your physical state and emotions. Including mindful practices in your daily routine ensures a healthy outlet for grief.
As feelings arise, be sure to express them helpfully. Writing down your emotions and thoughts in a grief journal or sharing them with a trusted listener like a professional counsellor makes for mindful and healthy grief recovery.
Connect with others
Remind yourself you’re not alone. There is support available for you and it’s okay to ask for help. The practise of mindfulness also includes reaching out to trusted family members, understanding friends, and professional grief counsellors and psychologists.
It can be hard to see clearly when in the grips of grief. So as part of your self-care, try practising mindful eating or gentle walking; these activities invite healthy ways of coping with the pain and uncertainty of grief while also powering your mind-body connection.
Is mindfulness for you?
There is no doubt mindfulness is the hot new trend, but is it a tool for you?
Research shows mindfulness practices are a great way to reduce the stress of grief by increasing emotional resilience and improving sleep.
Furthermore, mindful practices help you develop self-care and an attitude that attracts happiness into your life.
By practising mindfulness, you create the mental space needed for healing and moving forward from loss in a healthy way.
Find out more about mindfulness here
Looking after your mental health