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Meeting Grief


“Only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.” — Anne Lamott

Grief is an active process. We have to grieve, give it our time, our attention and our presence. If we try to stuff it in a box, numb out from it, detour around it, and move on without going through it, that box will lodge in us and block the light that we need to heal. We don’t heal in the dark. For true healing, we have to tune in to our hearts.

"There are pains that cannot be contained in the mind—only in the heart.” — Stephen Levine.

We must turn our attention to what we’re carrying this day, meet it and welcome what is there, honor and accept it, and give ourselves compassion and nurturing. What are we carrying today? It’s not helpful for us to try to rationalize, compare, judge, or understand grief, either our own or someone else’s.  We just need to be willing to hold it in our hearts. My 22-year old son, in discussing his grief over the loss of his father, put it this way “I held its hand and I said hello.”

Practice:

When we feel overwhelmed by grief, take a few deep abdominal breaths. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out, longer, through your mouth. Slow down. As our breathing slows, our heart rate will follow. Notice your thoughts. If there are thoughts that are creating fear and anxiety, gently pluck them out. I call these ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts.)  Don’t judge them or condemn yourself for having them. This is an exercise in acceptance and letting go. Your intention is to heal and you are creating fertile soil so this can take place. Place your hand over your heart and send healing breath and love to the ache there. Replace these thoughts with what I call PATs (Positive Affirming Thoughts.) Listen to a song, read helpful words, or reach out to part of your tribe if you need to. Know that what you are feeling connects you to the world. We are all in this together.

Wishing you comfort and healing,

Leigh

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