This cursor has been mocking me. I think it knows that what I originally set out to share I have zero credibility to write. I’m not an expert on grief nor am I well-versed enough in the physiological intwinement of mindfulness and healing from loss.
Here’s what I can tell you: My grandpa passed today after a short battle with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. As conditions quickly deteriorated, all of his children got on planes and flew thousands of miles to be by his side. They didn’t make it in time and were given the news at the airport.
It’s okay if your heart hurts after reading that. Mine does too.
Some would say that mindfulness and grief don’t mix. If you’re looking at it through a Buddist-esque lens, you’re told that suffering is inevitable, and if you change your thoughts you change your reality. Add that on top of the superficial quick-fix-to-happiness reputation that mindfulness has received in the last few years, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.
Nothing can prepare you for grief. It shakes you to your core and creeps up on you when you least expect it. It is a non-linear, transformative path that rides along parallel throughout your lifetime. There is no quick fix. There is no switch that self-implodes your grief once you say “yes!” to mindfulness.
Where Mindfulness Supports Grief
I do believe, however, that a more inclusive approach to mindfulness does provide tools for navigating the grieving process. To me, the overarching umbrella of mindfulness is awareness. Whether it’s adding awareness to our thoughts, our routines, what we are holding space and making time for, or even the internal and external dialogue we are using, once we are aware, we can act and refocus our attention accordingly.
Remove the Stigma. The first thing we must consider is removing the stigma from grief itself. You are not weak for grieving. You are not less than for fully immersing yourself in the wave of grief. We must face and accept grief for all it is and will be.
Give Yourself Grace. Not only does grief bring an avalanche of “I should haves,” we also feel like we must manage our usual day-to-day during the grieving process. Give yourself grace. While you cannot change the past, you can focus on the present, and present you needs self-care. Give her love and forgiveness.
Hold Space for Others. When we’re grieving, we’re oftentimes supporting others who are mourning, too. Holding space for others can help you navigate the process fearlessly and vulnerably without judgment.
I know it can feel like there isn’t room for grief, let alone holding space for others. When I knew my grandpa was going to pass within the next few days, I used the days leading up to his death to mourn. It allowed me to be more present for my family in the moments where they needed me most. I know we can’t all do that when we lose a loved one, but it sure did allow me to hold space for them knowing they were holding space for me too.
Lean In. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but we must lean into grief. Give yourself permission to feel. Everything you’re experiencing is valid. You are safe to explore your emotions. Yes, it hurts, but riding the wave is an important part of the healing process.