Mindfulness for grief
How do you grieve mindfully? Explore the self-compassionate approach of acceptance and non-judgement as you process your loss in the present moment with techniques such as meditation, journaling and breathing exercises.
Mindfulness for grief
Grief is complicated, and no matter what kind of grief you are experiencing, the thoughts, sensations and emotions that arise as a result, cannot be predicted. The grieving process is different for everyone, healing and recovery has no fixed timeframe, nor are there any quick fixes.
It is natural for humans to want to avoid pain and suffering, but it is part of the human experience. When we lose someone or something we care about deeply, avoiding the reality and pain of the loss is not beneficial and could lead to poor physical or mental health. It’s important to allow yourself to feel all the emotions that accompany grief. Practicing mindfulness allows you to do this.
Healing from grief caused by loss and bereavement in life can be helped with various mindfulness practices. Through mindfulness, we can learn how to face life through each moment, no matter what we are experiencing – joy, sadness, suffering and grief – without avoiding or stopping the process.
Mindfulness practices to help support grief can include mindful breathing, meditation and expressing our feelings through journaling. Read below to learn about each of these techniques and how to apply them into your day to day life.
An effective technique for helping to calm an anxious mind or tension in the body. Mindful breathing can be done anywhere and at any time and simply involves focusing your attention on your body as your breath enters and exits. Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques all depend on focusing on the breath. When done properly with focus and intention, it is a practice you can tap into anytime you are seeking to calm you mind and body.
Learning the simple technique of mindful breathing can help you to:
- Reduce stress levels in your body
- Lower your heart rate
- Lower your blood pressure
- Better manage chronic pain
- Reduce anxiety
Start with the below technique for a few minutes a day and build as you go:
- Find a comfortable position, sitting upright in a chair with a straight spine
- Close your eyes or lower your gaze
- Pay attention to the movement of your chest, feeling the air in your nostrils and temperature of your breath as it leaves your body
- Continue this focused attention of your breath for a few minutes
It is normal for your mind to wander, so if it does, acknowledge it without being hard on yourself and gently bring your attention back to your body and breath.
Through meditation, we can sit with our thoughts and feelings, which although difficult and overwhelming at times, allows us to create a space for ourselves – a space for connecting to our body and mind, a space for acceptance and a space for healing.
Mindful meditation has been practised for centuries as a tool that can address life’s challenges such as depression, anxiety, smoking, overeating, self-esteem, chronic pain and grief. Practising mindful meditation is an act of self-compassion. It allows the person practising to pay attention to what they are feeling in that moment, with a non-judgemental, curious attitude.
The following Sounds, Body, Breath Meditation has been selected specifically for Griefline by the psychologists at Smiling Mind. This meditation is suitable for beginners and can be practiced sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down.
Smiling Mind is a non-for-profit web and app-based meditation program developed by psychologists and educators to help bring mindfulness into your life.
To incorporate mindfulness and meditation exercises into your daily life, you may like to try the free Smiling Mind app. To download the app, visit:
Express your feelings
Journaling is a powerful tool often used when practicing mindfulness. Research shows that journaling for grief has therapeutic value, allowing ourselves the space for genuine healing to take place, whether or not we’re ready and willing to express ourselves to others. It provides a personal platform for your emotions to show up, in the present moment, as you process your loss – anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety. And all you need is a pen and some paper (or an app). Consider your journal your confidant, a space for you to speak your truth without judgement and untangle confusing thoughts. Here are some daily journal reflective prompts to get you started:
- Today, I am really missing…
- The hardest time of day is…
- I could use some more…
- I could use some less…
- I am ready to feel…
- I find it helpful when…
For more information on the benefits of grief journaling visit: https://whatsyourgrief.com/5-benefits-of-grief-journaling/
Mindfulness can be incorporated into your everyday, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a healthy space everyday to connect with your thoughts and feelings, even for just a few minutes, can result in a cathartic release of emotions that leads to healing.