When you’re on the path to radiant living, it can sometimes feel as if you are lost. Think of it as being on a hiking trail with no waypoint markers—scary, confusing, and rife with the potential of telling ourselves what-if stories. To help you avoid some of the frightened and disoriented feelings, let’s talk about how to mindfully examine your grief journey.
What is a grief journey?
Simply put, it’s the path you take through grief. It begins at the moment you experience a loss, and brings you to radiant living. It’s the myriad of emotions that arise, the triggers (sights, smells, places, people, dates, etc.) that can bring on a wave of grief, and even what your body goes through.
To be clear, you will always love and miss your person, but how you feel in your mind and body will evolve over time.
Mindful Examination Tip #1: Connect with your Inner Self
There are so many distractions around us—Netflix, Hulu, games on our phones, social media, books…
When it comes to checking in with our inner selves, it can take conscious effort to do so, and it can be difficult to remember that it’s an important part of mindfully examining where we are in our grief journey.
Here are two exercises that you may find helpful:
Close your eyes.
Take a deep cleansing breath.
Now imagine champagne bubbles filling up your torso.
Notice them. What do they look like? What do they feel like?
What words come to mind as you experience the bubbles?
How would you describe this experience?
Exercise 2: P-B-C
Breathe into your body.
Focus on your breath coming in.
Let your breath out and focus on how it feels as it exits your body.
Connect to your torso.
What do you feel? What words come to mind?
By using mind-body exercises, you can learn to listen deeply and connect to your inner state. The act of noticing, focusing, and naming your feelings creates a space of empowerment.
Mindful Examination Tip #2: Don’t tell yourself stories
As humans, we’re inclined to get lost in the what-if’s of the past and future. When it comes to the past, we try to change what happened so that our present includes the person we lost. When it comes to the future, we often imagine them there and create entire scenarios around what life would look like if they hadn’t passed on.
It’s okay to continue to include your loved one in your life. I encourage Dia de los Muertos altars, as well as including loved ones in holiday traditions. But it’s important to stay present, in the present.
Take inventory of yourself, your situation, and your life as a whole, without the what-if’s. See clearly where you actually are, and how you actually feel. Refrain from saying things like, ‘I’d be happy if‘ or ‘If my person were here, I’d feel this way’. The truth is, you might be right about how you’d feel or what your life would be like, but your if statement isn’t what is actually happening.
Avoid telling yourself stories, and focus on where you are, how you’re feeling, and what your plans are right now—the reality of your situation.
Mindful Examination Tip #3: Be honest with yourself
You may have experienced the expectations of others when it comes to where they think you should be on your grief journey. They may say it’s been years, and tell you how you should be feeling at this point.
You may feel pressured to make your feelings line up with those expectations. This can lead to people suppressing their real emotions in order to please those around them.
Some people set expectations for themselves, too. For example, I’ve talked to people who feel as if they are doing their loved one a disservice by experiencing joy. The expectation they’ve set on themselves is that they’ll never be truly happy again, never have another relationship, or even explore the world around them.
These expectations are just that: expectations. They’re not facts, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Whenever you realize that someone, or yourself, has set expectations on your grief journey and therefore your life and future, stop and examine them.
And this is where you have to be honest with yourself. Is the expectation of never being truly happy again true? Or was it something you told yourself because you were in a state of grief where that statement felt true in the moment, but now it no longer does?
It’s important to remember that honesty with yourself can be difficult. It can be uncomfortable, painful, or even something you shy away from. Remember that you are not required to share these truths with anyone, and can handle them in your own time. And if you feel like you want to share but aren’t sure where to turn, consider a therapist. Many of the newer insurance plans include mental health care, through services like Teladoc, at reduced (or zero!) cost.
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
If you’re struggling with the emotional process of grief...
I want to share a free gift with you that can help you recognize the physical, cognitive and emotional reactions you may be experiencing. You’ll also take away prompts to use daily along your journey.
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