Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something we love, and the experience can often feel overwhelming. Finding ways to cope with your grief may feel challenging. Mindfulness provides a way to come to terms with what has happened, whilst helping us to overcome some of the difficult emotions that arise.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present in the moment. It is being aware of where we are, what we are doing and how we are feeling as it happens. The aim of mindfulness is to move away from being overly distracted or reactive, and to accept whatever our experience is in the moment.
Anyone can practice mindfulness, and there are many different techniques that encourage you to focus on the present moment. These techniques typically include movement, breathing or concentration, and are proven to help you slow down and calm your nervous system.
How can mindfulness support someone in grief?
Grief is an emotional response to loss. Whilst practising mindfulness can’t remove the pain or experience of grief, it can help you to understand your feelings whilst working through any difficult emotions that may arise. Regularly practising mindfulness can help to build emotional resilience and help you accept what has happened. Many people find that regularly practising mindfulness helps them to cope better with their loss.
5 mindfulness practices to try today…
1. Accept your feelings
Emotions are part of who we are, but many of us have a difficult relationship with negative emotions. Suppressing or avoiding intense emotions doesn’t make them go away, in fact, it can make them stronger over time. Whilst it may not be easy, recognising and accepting your feelings is an important way to come to terms with a bereavement.
2. Breathe mindfully
Mindful breathing is a simple form of meditation that is proven to calm you down, ease stress and balance your emotions. This technique involves slowing down your breath and concentrating on it fully. The beauty of mindful breathing is that it can be practised anywhere. If you are new to meditation, start small – sometimes all you need is a few deep breaths to feel better. Over time you may want to sit for longer.
3. Write it down
Writing is a form of thinking out loud and is a powerful way to organise your thoughts. Keeping a grief journal may help you to work through things, and may help with self-reflection. You could write down memories, journal your feelings, or write a stream of thoughts as they arise. You don’t need to write much, but it can be helpful to do it regularly.
4. Mindful movement
Walking, yoga, cycling, dancing or lifting weights can all be part of mindfulness practice. Movement can help you to check in with your body, release tension and stress, and improve your mood. Any movement or exercise can be mindful if it allows you to be present, and going for a walk in nature is considered to be one of the most powerful ways to practice mindfulness.
5. Practice self-compassion
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It’s not uncommon for people to become more self-critical when they grieve, feeling like they should be feeling or coping better. Try to remove any expectation of what you should or shouldn’t be feeling, and prioritise your health and well-being. Take care of yourself in the same way you’d take care of a loved one.
Whilst mindfulness can be a useful tool to support you in grief, some people may need additional help from a medical professional or counsellor. At Dillamore we work with Carole Warren, a bereavement counsellor who can provide emotional support and guidance for anyone coping with grief. To get in touch with Carole, contact our friendly team on 01525 372210 or use our contact form.