How Meditation and Mindfulness Helps You Navigate the Storms of Grief
We all have times when we’re facing the stress and impact of grief, loss and transitions. Navigating these storms can be challenging, and we at TCM are grateful for the restorative and preventative power of meditation and mindfulness in helping us survive and come out of the storm to thrive in our lives.
I contacted Liz Hides, a fellow meditation teacher and grief specialist, and she kindly agreed to contribute a guest blog post and share her personal story and professional expertise with us. Here’s my interview with Liz:
What has been your personal experience with grief, loss and meditation?
In my 58 years on this planet, I’ve weathered many storms of grief, loss, and life transitions. Had I known the neuroscience behind meditation and mindfulness, I might have avoided living with chronic illness today. I often speak publicly about my healing journey to living well with a chronic illness called MS.
Grief was exhausting, confusing, and painful, but the one common element I encountered with each experience was resilience; somehow, I made it through each moment and felt joy, happiness and gratitude again. I thought I would never feel anything but pain and suffering.
In my later years, I’ve reconnected with my spirit through meditation and mindfulness, learning to welcome the storm, trust my ability to navigate it and treat my suffering with respect, care, and kindness.
What helped you to heal and become resilient?
The practices of meditating and mindfulness created space for me to be still and quiet. To welcome the storm, to trust that I can navigate through the tumultuous emotions that arise during each meditation instead of busily distracting, avoiding and resisting the suffering. This has been my greatest learning. To grieve with grace, to allow the suffering. To invite it into the present moment and treat it with respect, care and kindness so that it can dissipate without toppling my boat as I continue to brave the unpredictable storms of this world.
How can we understand grief and loss from a body, mind and soul perspective?
Grief is a complex and encompassing response to loss or death, affecting us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It’s a unique experience, triggered not only by the death of a loved one but also by life transitions like retirement, job loss, or relationships ending.
Grief can shatter our sense of reality, leaving us exhausted, confused, shocked, and in excruciating pain.
To navigate the storm of grief with grace, dignity, and self-compassion, it’s essential to recognize its multifaceted nature. Grief touches every aspect of our being.
During grief, we often disconnect from our bodies to shield ourselves from pain and uncomfortable sensations. This detachment leads to distracted and restless hours spent outside of our physical selves. Learning to rest and reconnect with our bodies is crucial for healing.
Meditation encourages us to return to our bodies, be present, and accept the uncomfortable sensations and pain. Doing so allows us to regulate our physical responses and make room for healing.
Grief can make us feel like we cannot live without the deceased, leading to a depressed mood, sadness, despair, and a loss of confidence and competence.
It can also hamper our ability to focus and concentrate, leaving us overwhelmed. Meditation helps clear the mind, providing space to process and heal.
Mindfulness practices allow us to clear the cluttered mind, honing our focus and concentration. This mental clarity helps us better process our grief and emotions.
The overwhelming urge to withdraw and cocoon ourselves is common during grief. We might feel that no one understands our pain, leading to isolation and a sense of burden to others. It’s essential to break through this isolation, seeking support from those who care.
The practice of self-compassion reminds us to turn towards our grief with kindness, remind ourselves that we’re not alone and that we all have moments of loss in our lives and then create space to tune in to what we most need in the moment.
Our spirit and soul act as ballast during the storm of grief, keeping us steady in the face of turmoil. However, grief often undermines our intuition, making us doubt ourselves.
Meditation and mindfulness can help us reconnect with our intuition and spiritual strength. Our inner wisdom becomes a guiding light during times of darkness.
How can people navigate grief and loss to find resilience and growth and feel joy and happiness again?
Mindfulness and meditation can help people navigate grief and loss by helping the body regulate and become skilled in meeting the present moment, accepting what is instead of resisting so that the suffering during the storm is more like navigating a small set of waves.
These practices help us foster resilience, finding moments of stillness and calm amongst the raging storm of grief, and creating a new path of self-compassion, joy and personal growth.
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Connect with liz
Elizabeth (Liz) Hides, MSW, RSW, CT, CMMT, RM/T, is a social worker, certified thanatologist (study of death, dying and bereavement), a mindfulness and meditation teacher, and a Reiki Master/Teacher.
Liz founded her private practice, Healthy Directions, 14 years ago to help people navigate grief, loss and life transition through her holistic mind, body and spirit offerings. Liz has endured multiple deaths, losses and transitions throughout her life. She is deeply passionate about finding our resilience and growth through turbulent storms of change and loss. Liz believes if we listen to the inner stillness, then healing and wellness happen.