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How to Grieve Mindfully and Heal

Updated: Jul 4

black and white picture of bearded white guy with eyes closed, no shirt, record player and abstract painting in background.
Grieving mindfully can help with racing throughts and strong emotions. Photo: Mitchell Griest

When you’ve lost someone or something important to you, your emotions might take center stage and make it hard to balance feeling with thinking. Grieving mindfully is a possible way to cope with grief and loss in a healthier way. It involves bringing awareness, acceptance, and compassion to the grieving process, allowing you to navigate their emotions and experiences with greater clarity and self-compassion.

What does that look like to grieve mindfully?

Here is a summary of the concept of grieving mindfully:

Cultivate Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves intentionally paying attention to the present moment with an open and non-judgmental attitude. In the context of grieving, you bring awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations related to the loss without trying to suppress or avoid them.

Acknowledge and Accept Emotions: Grieving mindfully encourages individuals to acknowledge and accept their emotions as they arise, recognizing that grief is a natural response to loss. Rather than judging or resisting these emotions, mindfulness allows individuals to observe them with compassion and without getting overwhelmed by their intensity.

Non-Attachment to Thoughts: Mindfulness teaches individuals to observe their thoughts without attaching to them or getting caught up in narratives of loss or self-blame. By developing a non-attached and compassionate stance towards thoughts, individuals can create space for healing and self-reflection.

Self-Compassion: Grieving mindfully emphasizes the importance of self-compassion during the grieving process. This involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance. It helps if you recognize that grief is a challenging and personal journey that requires patience and self-care.

Connect to the Present Moment: Mindfulness encourages individuals to anchor themselves in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By focusing on the present, individuals can engage fully with their current experiences, fostering a sense of grounding and acceptance.

Practice Self-Care: Mindful grieving recognizes the importance of self-care as an essential aspect of the healing process. Engaging in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, spending time in nature, journaling, or seeking support from loved ones, can help you during this time.

Seek Support: Mindfulness in grief does not mean facing the journey alone. If you recognize that additional support is needed, you can find support from therapists, support groups, or trusted people in your life who can provide understanding and compassion.

What are the advantages of grieving mindfully?

You might have noticed that when you’re upset about anything, your thoughts might raise and you might get confused about what is realistic and true versus emotionally charged and distorted. Mindfulness can help you slow down and choose what thoughts makes sense, by being an observer of your thoughts and emotions rather than a captive to them. From this observer stance, it can be easier to let yourself experience the grief. Avoidance of grief is one of the factors that complicates it, so your ability to experience the grief mindfully allows you to encounter the grief without being overwhelmed by it.

Additionally, being mindful as you grieve can help you have more compassion for yourself and the intense pain you’re experiencing. This is especially important if you tend to criticize yourself for being vulnerable. Sadness, confusion, fear – all these emotions can make you feel helpless at times. Our society is somewhat phobic of tolerating vulnerable emotions in ourselves or others. If you get upset at yourself for crying and yearning for the person you lost, that is a natural response characteristic of grief. There’s no reason to feel ashamed of it or to push it away. Mindfulness helps you accept what you’re feeling and thinking without attaching judgment, rejecting it, or clinging to it.

Of course, mindfulness and sometimes, you might want instant relief from how bad you feel about your loss. However, if you seek instant relief through drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behavior, thoughts that you were avoiding are still there. In addition, if you develop a habit of escaping what you’re feeling, that can create its own problems like addiction. Avoidance is not very helpful when it comes to grief, because it is a natural process that needs to be experienced and reconciled. Mindfulness can help you work through the grief and accept everything that you are experiencing.

How do I start grieving mindfully?

You can start with simple activities that help you observe your thoughts, emotions, and movements. Meditation is one way, simply noticing your breath entering and exiting your body. You don’t have to clear out all your thoughts or have a blank mind. Mindfulness is simply slowing down to observe and be present for what is happening now.

You can do that while your washing dishes, brushing your teeth, eating, drinking water, walking… If you are consistently paying attention to what you’re doing and how you’re moving, you’re being mindful. When you notice that your attention is straying to the future or the past, is simply bring your attention back. There is a guided meditation that I have created that helps you cultivate your inner awareness. You can purchase it here.

Grieving mindfully gives you tools to navigate the complex and often painful emotions that accompany the grieving process. By cultivating mindfulness and self-compassion, individuals can approach their grief with greater awareness, acceptance, and resilience, ultimately supporting your healing and training your mind to be more efficient and focused.

If you need help grieving mindfully, please call me at 661-233-6771.

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