How to use meditation to grow with loss.
Each year, when we think of the holiday season, we think of a celebratory time filled with love, laughter, and creating memories to last a lifetime. But, the thought for those who have lost a loved one can be very different.
A time when most are purchasing gifts, preparing a festive menu or picking out their holiday attire, there is a group on the opposite end of that spectrum, preparing to endure this special, yet difficult season. I've personally experienced the loss of a loved one—my mother—and the holidays are one of the most agonizing times of year. Because grief serves as the heart's natural response, understanding how to use meditation to grow with loss is often times overlooked. Although there is truly no right or wrong way to grieve here are a few meditative ways to help you navigate the emotional wave of loss as you're gearing up for the holiday season.
Create a grief ritual. Ceremonial occasions and rituals have remained a constant source of remembrance since the beginning of time. Our ancestors commemorated the life and legacy of loved ones through various practices and acknowledgments. Paying homage with simple gestures such as lighting a candle, designing a special event to honor their memory, becoming one with nature or giving into earth’s natural elements with the intent of releasing deep-rooted sentiments, by burying in the ground, releasing into the ocean or setting ablaze can help express complex feelings, whether heartwarming or saddening.
Respect your tears. Holding back tears is an unhealthy approach to coping with the cycle of grief. Sometimes a good cry is needed to lift your spirits, release stress and clear the cycle of sadness that may be hindering you from moving forward and appreciating this thing called life just a little more. The University of Pittsburgh psychiatry professor Lauren Bylsma insists, “Those who can’t cry when they lose someone they love often are much more vulnerable to depression and other health problems.”
Rely on your sources of support. There are times when you would like to be alone with your most intimate and coveted thoughts. However, because the pain of loss runs deep and the void will most likely never be filled surrounding yourself with a support system that can serve as a listening ear can help you maneuver through the most trying times of the healing process. Life is already an uncertain and often times difficult journey. Why carry the burden and experience this emotional roller coaster alone?
Engage in mindfulness meditation. Cultivating a peace of mind consists of deliberately and consciously carving time from your schedule to partake in a specific form of action. Mindful attitudes can shape your immediate response with good intentions, honest efforts and most importantly, the ability to be generous to yourself, during this difficult time. Holidays tend to stir the pot of emotions and trigger feelings of guilt, despair and loneliness. The next time, you begin to reminisce on the death of your loved one, try adopting one of these mindfulness meditations to allow yourself the opportunity to live in the present more freely, openly and honestly; without filters or limitations.
- Breathing space. A quick meditative practice, focusing on personal breathing sensations to help lessen overwhelming feelings during highly stressful situations throughout the holidays.
- Body scan. When the going gets tough, take a minute or two to realign your energy, from head to toe, by lying down and centering your thoughts.
- Observing thought. Focusing on disappointing or depressive thoughts can cripple our way of thinking in more ways than one. To avoid paralysis in a specific state of mind, as certain thoughts emerge, classify them in either positive or negative categories.
As you move forward in your quest to find inner peace and pick up the heartbreaking pieces after the loss of a loved one hopefully involving mediation into your daily routine can help you achieve a sense of ease while coping through grief. Although, your heart may yearn at the thought of celebrating one last joyous occasion with that special someone, treasured memories will continue the bond with your loved one well beyond the holiday season.