A sudden loss can feel like a physical shock almost, something that you don’t understand how to deal with. Faced with such unprecedented times, there are many who experienced unexpected losses in the span of fewer than two years. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, a sense of normalcy, loss of community or even financial stability, what you’re feeling is absolutely valid.
Before the pandemic, people were somewhat well-equipped to deal with situations that brought uncertainty. There was no universal threat to our health, no condition that challenged our beliefs or questioned our state of stability. Now, we all are learning to live with this constant state of doubt and unsureness about physical health, family, school, finances, relationships and even future plans. It’s all a lot to process but we’re all going through it together.
Take a look as American-Indian author Deepak Chopra shares his thoughts on how to cope with feelings of overwhelm together.
Before we understand how you can combat feelings of grief in a healthy manner, let’s look at some of the signs that tell that you’re grieving.
For someone who isn’t completely emotionally aware, grieving may feel like a constant state of discomfort. People are feeling all kinds of emotions during these unprecedented times and calling these emotions grief is completely acceptable. The world feels like it’s changing and it is. If you’re experiencing these signs below, you may be dealing with grief.
- Difficulty concentration or staying present in the now
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- An inconsistent eating pattern, eating less or more than usual
- Decreased state of energy
- Feelings of overwhelm all over the place
- Frequent bouts of anger and irritation
- Excessive compensating habits like scrolling social media, binge-watching TV, drinking or smoking more
The most important thing that you can accept while experiencing grief is that the person who is no longer with us wouldn’t want us to suffer this way. They would want us to remember the happy memories, to go about our lives and celebrate each day we have on this earth. If you’re unable to find resolution or completion in grief, you’ll end up having unreleased feelings of sadness. Grief isn’t something that we “get over”, it’s something that we understand and heal from, moving forward eventually.
The five common stages of grief are:
Denial: Our first reaction is to numb ourselves to the news of someone’s death or a loss. This helps protect us from experiencing the intensity of the emotions.
Bargaining: We let ourselves get drawn into the intrusive thoughts of ‘what could’ve been done’ to prevent the loss. These thoughts can lead to guilt or anger if not regulated healthily.
Depression: Now, we start to understand the true extent of our emotions and the reality of the loss. Some common signs include sleeping problems, loss of appetite, lack of energy, incessant crying, self-pity, loneliness, and anxiety.
Anger: When we reach the stage of anger, we experience feelings of helplessness. These emotions stem from feelings of abandonment directed towards the person who left us.
Acceptance: Finally, we come to terms with our grief and this is where the healing begins. These stages occur differently for everyone and it’s really important to experience the journey towards healing.
How can meditation help you cope with grief?
Of course, meditation isn’t a be-all-end-all solution for those combating grief and loss but it can definitely help you heal and accept the situation by creating a healthy mental space for yourself. The idea of sitting still with your eyes closed and your thoughts in the forefront seems like an overwhelming experience, especially when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. But meditation can teach you to let the thoughts, emotions and feelings pass without judgement, it can release tension that you may be feeling in your body as well as your heart. Meditation helps create room for us to reconnect with ourselves and the person we’ve lost.
By sitting still and experiencing the emotions you’re feeling, you allow yourself room for understanding. Emotions aren’t always bad; they get a bad name due to our reactions to them. But if you wish to completely heal from a traumatic experience, you need to feel the pain and hurt that comes before the healing begins. And once it truly does, you’ll experience the most cathartic release of emotions that’ll make you feel like life is coming back together.
Here’s an easy guided meditation for grief and loss:
Begin with finding a comfortable seat
Slowly and gently breathe in and out. Settle into your seat and relax your body by attuning it to the present moment. Observe what is happening in the now.
Bring to mind your loss
Let the burden of the loss you’ve been carrying to come to the front. Focus on your personal experience and the person you’ve lost, or the job you’re grieving or the loss of your sense of normalcy.
Focus on your body and your somatic experience
How does your body feel? Does it feel grounded? Do you feel a tightness in your shoulders, your chest? Do you feel edgy, hollow, dull or full? Don’t interpret, just let the emotion wash over you.
Now, bring your attention to your heart
When our heartaches, it is grieving a loss. Let it fill to the brim with these overwhelming emotions and simply allow your mind, body and soul to feel them. You may feel tight, heavy, raw and vulnerable. Welcome the emotions.
Then bring awareness to your throat centre
We usually feel a knot in our throat and a sense of tightness when we’re about to cry. This ache is held tightly in our body before we release them. Notice where else your grief resides – it could be your heart, your stomach.
Pay attention to the emotions arising
There could be sorrow, anger, disappointment, a sense of dullness or overwhelm. Let the emotions come to you without judgement. There’s no need to feel embarrassed or afraid. Let these emotions flow and allow yourself to rest in the present.
Some people often perceive grief as a negative emotion. It’s essential for our healing. It’s essential for change. Let yourself experience the grief and let it teach you.
Accepting change can be hard. Saying goodbye can be hard. But it happens to everyone. And if you keep fighting the inevitability of loss, you’ll hinder your healing. Instead open your heart to acceptance and appreciation of life, liberating yourself through love and joy.
If you’d like to learn how you can overcome grief and anxiety, watch our in-house expert Vidisha Kaushal’s webinar below.
Read more: How To Mindfully Meditate Around Noise