Finding peace in loss – Grief can sometimes feel like an ocean of sorrow with its waves rocking you violently at times, while at other moments pulling you into an undertow of pain. But mindfulness can be an anchor during the grieving process, helping you find your footing when emotions feel overwhelming.
I’d like to share a simple mindfulness exercise that has helped me during periods of loss. While no practice can eliminate the sadness of losing a loved one, it can provide calm and clarity, even if just for a few moments.
How to Practice Mindfulness for Grief
Start by finding a quiet space where you can reflect without distraction. I like to go outside and find a patch of nature – under a tree or by some flowers. But even sitting quietly in your room works fine.
When you’re ready, get into a comfortable seated position or stand with your feet firmly planted. Close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths to start centering yourself and slow down your thoughts.
Now go through the following steps slowly, giving your full attention to each phase:
1. Ground Yourself
Focus on the sensation of your body being supported – your feet on the floor, back against a chair. Imagine you have roots extending from your center down through your legs, anchoring and stabilizing you firmly in this moment.
2. Breathe Mindfully
Keep breathing deeply. Try inhaling for a count of 4, then exhaling for a count of 6. This longer exhale triggers relaxation. Let the breath soothe you like a gently rolling wave.
3. Acknowledge Your Emotions
Notice what you’re feeling without judgement. Don’t try to push away emotions like grief, sadness, anger, or exhaustion. Recognize that you feel what you feel – and that’s okay. Just let the feelings flow past like passing clouds.
4. Revisit Positive Memories
When you’re ready, bring a treasured memory with your loved one to mind. Picture their face, their smile and laughter. Allow the warm emotions to fill your heart again. Though they’re gone, the love still lives inside you.
5. Cultivate Gratitude
Even when grieving, gratitude can be found. Consider the ways, big and small, your life has been touched by this person. Appreciate the time you shared – the lessons they taught, the support they gave, the joy they sparked.
6. Release the Pain
As you exhale each breath now, imagine you are releasing a little more weight and sorrow. Visualize your breath carrying the darkness and pain up and away. Feel your body becoming lighter.
7. Come Back to the Present
Open your eyes and take in your surroundings with fresh perspective. Observe the colors, smells, textures and sounds. Breathe deeply. Recognize the beauty of this moment.
When you’re ready, gently come back to your day. You may feel more centered, peaceful and ready to carry on, even with grief still present. For me, this practice reconnects me to hope.
I’m often amazed by the stillness and relief mindfulness provides, if only for a short time. I hope this exercise provides some solace amidst your own grieving. You can come back to it whenever waves of sadness return. Over time, the periods of calm last a little longer.
While words cannot ease the loss, know that you have the strength within to navigate these waters skillfully. I wish you comfort and gradual healing.