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Gillian Sanger

Holding space for grief

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I've come to realize that no matter how much I try to 'prepare' myself for loss, death, and pain in life, so long as I'm human, these experiences will continue to come to me. I'm getting better at holding space for myself to just be with grief when it's very much present within me. Does anyone else have insight into how to authentically navigate loss and sorrow?

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I recently lost my father to cancer. He lived a very beautiful and rich life until the age of 80, and he was a true blessing and gift to his family and friends. As you said, it's never easy, even though we knew the time would come, and had a few months to prepare. when the day came, it was surreal. Through mindfulness, what I've learned is to sit with sadness and allow it to show up in the body, and then focus on the area that feels heavy or in pain and then simply breathe into the area. The goal is to allow the sadness to be, acknowledge where it shows up in the body, and then sit with it until the energy moves through that area, as to not feel any more pain in the particular area that you observed. Letting go of the energy allows us to release some sadness as it arises.

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11 hours ago, Julie Bloom said:

The goal is to allow the sadness to be, acknowledge where it shows up in the body, and then sit with it until the energy moves through that area,

I'm sorry for your loss Julie. It seems you have a strong degree of mindfulness which, as you've expressed, is helping you through it. Allowing the sadness to be really does help it to dissolve. Sometimes taking time (and sometimes more effective than at other times) but I do think the more I practice, the easier it becomes.

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On 10/1/2019 at 10:43 AM, Julie Bloom said:

I recently lost my father to cancer. He lived a very beautiful and rich life until the age of 80, and he was a true blessing and gift to his family and friends. As you said, it's never easy, even though we knew the time would come, and had a few months to prepare. when the day came, it was surreal. Through mindfulness, what I've learned is to sit with sadness and allow it to show up in the body, and then focus on the area that feels heavy or in pain and then simply breathe into the area. The goal is to allow the sadness to be, acknowledge where it shows up in the body, and then sit with it until the energy moves through that area, as to not feel any more pain in the particular area that you observed. Letting go of the energy allows us to release some sadness as it arises.

Beautifully said, Julie. 

This reminds me of what the West African healer Sobonfu Some writes here:

http://www.sobonfu.com/articles/writings-by-sobonfu-2/embracing-grief/

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I am sorry for your loss.  I lost my dad a few years ago.  First close family member besides my brother.  I didn't see my brother for 10 years.   But it hit me very hard.  My dad, I was right there with mom helping her get through things.  I remind myself of how awesome death really is.  I try to be the observer and caretaker when around the losses.  I experience and acknowledge the loss when the time is appropriate.  Only 10 years ago I could not deal with loss at all.  I would shake and totally melt down.  

Understanding that we do not die.  The body dies, helps me with my emotional control.  I truly believe this because I witness this when I help a couple people to cross over.  (My dad and my father-in-law) I mean I visited with them until they were comfortable enough to go from their form.  

My dad was talking to his buddy soldiers from 60 years previous. Greeting them, being half here and half there.  It was an amazing thing to witness.  Both these people were older and ready to go.  It is much different in different situations.  I still never hold back and remain in the deep breathing and controlled mode until appropriate.  

Blessings everyone.  

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@Paige PIlege Your post reminds me of a poem I came across recently after a death in my partner's family - 'His Journey's Just Begun' by Ellen Brenneman

Excerpt:

Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

Full poem at: https://www.greenacresgroup.co.uk/organisingafuneral/readings-and-poems-for-funerals/his-journeys-just-begun/

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I have learned that embracing the grief allows it to turn into peace.  It sounds scary, but  accept the pain and it will be transformed.  Do not deny or suppress and it will become something new.

Edited by marie farmer
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On 2/8/2020 at 6:18 PM, marie farmer said:

I have learned that embracing the grief allows it to turn into peace.  It sounds scary, but  accept the pain and it will be transformed.  Do not deny or suppress and it will become something new.

Yes @marie farmer - I think that if we can turn towards it, there is certainly a peace and deeper wisdom to be found. It makes me think about how various cultures have understood/navigated/embraced death. Today in fact, my partner and I took a long walk and went through a beautiful cemetery here in Stockholm. We saw a woman and a young girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old) by a grave and we both felt that it's so important for children to be mindfully invited into a conversation about life and death - when appropriate.

I haven't practiced any mindfulness of death meditations, but I understand that it is a traditional Buddhist practice. I am going to look into guided practices on this subject now that this topic has come up again. Thank you for stirring the conversation in this thread!

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"Whether grief is obvious or hidden, the way forward is through. We lean into the pain and allow grief’s wisdom to present itself. Grief is an elemental thing, beyond the control of our intellect and best left to find its course like water down a mountain. If we dam it, it gains energy until it becomes a destructive flood. Best to let it find its way.
 
Opening to our grief opens us to pain. But it also opens us joy by freeing us from the deadening armor that’s accumulated around our hearts. Life’s preciousness emerges and we see the first crocus of spring breaking through the snow. We see the baby born in the maternity ward at the same moment CPR is stopped in the ER. We feel love for the stranger in the very heart-space opened by transformed grief."

 

How to meet broken hearts & longing - a profound dose of wisdom from Jeff Foster

 

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I have recently found myself unexpectedly uncoupled and it has brought up many things for me.  I am trying to hold a non-judgmental awareness for whatever arises.  I have experienced grief, a sense of unworthiness, shame, blame, sadness, disappointment, and freedom.  All are welcome at my table.  All are seen and acknowledged.  Tears flow, I journal in a free form way, I walk in nature to feel a sense of connection.  I feel overwhelmed because i honestly was caught unaware (which feels rotten and jarring), but I can sense my inner strength and acceptance in ways I have not before when faced with a loss.

If anyone has any resources for heartache- please send them along.

Be well.  

Rachel

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Addendum- I just clicked on the link from @bombabird and it was exactly what I was needing in this moment.  Thank you.

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