August 23, 2021

How to Stay Present in the Face of Grief.


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I’ve made a new friend and her name is grief. 

She has casually moved into my body, my soul, and my being. She keeps me tethered to my bed in the morning, as I cling to the softness of my sheets.

Her presence lingers like an old memory of a loved one who still lives in my heart. 

She is here to teach me something.

I know that I must sit with her and honor her, but some days I just crave some damn joy. I wish grief would go ahead and finish up her visit so I can get on with happiness. I know in my gut that sometime this storm will pass.

But not today.

Since grief is here to stay for a while, I invited my other friend to visit. She goes by the name of comfort.

When I say comfort, I don’t mean the false kind. The kind we drink, smoke, or indulge ourselves in. This only prolongs grief.

The comfort I refer to is the love we pull from within our own hearts. The little things that we do to take extra care of ourselves. The music we play with a positive message. The colorful robe we wrap up in or soft socks we put on our feet. The sunshine that we lie naked in. The water we submerge our bodies in to soothe away the pain. The lullaby we sing to the broken inner child that dwells inside of us.

Self-comfort is like giving ourselves a tender hug from the inside—an acceptance that we are still worthy of love and support. Our grief is not us, just a manifestation of loss that resides in our bodies. 

Yoga is just one of many forms of expression that can comfort us in times of grief or loss. We can sit with our pain and breathe into the sadness bringing new life and new direction. We can transform our pain into love. 

We can keep coming back to ourselves. Over and over with a gentleness that whispers in the ear of our grief and says, “I love you. You are whole.”

Befriending our grief isn’t easy. Her cumbersome nature gets in the way of life itself, but without acknowledging her and honoring her purpose, we only increase her power over us.

Leaning into pain feels nonintuitive, but if we avoid her she shows up uninvited at a time when joy is ready to grace us. Grief can quelch our joy, numbing us to what we could feel.

I cry everywhere I go now and I’m totally okay with it. This has become a new ritual. At first, it felt weird, awkward, or even wrong, but now I feel as it is appropriate and I can only be who I am. I can only sit with my feelings and let them bubble up from the depths of sadness and loss.

I am only human.

I no longer feel the shame associated with my grief. I don’t spare others the suppression of their own grief. This is a valuable emotion and a vital part of the healing process. My children think it’s funny that I cry but I hope it gives them permission to cry.

I know they won’t get that from the outside world. 

When I went through therapy years ago, I learned the importance of feeling into our sadness. I had avoided it at all cost and finally, when I let go and released my feelings like a thunder cloud releasing its heavy rains, I made room for the other emotions to come forward. Joy came from the rain.

When you feel sad, find a safe haven or environment to let it out. 

When we are low, we can find comfort in nature. We can sit among the trees and listen to the wind blowing softly through the trees. We can let the birds sing to our sad hearts and remind us that we are part of a greater (and magical) whole.

I learned this practice when I was just a little girl. The forest received my pain and sadness and expected nothing in return.

I honestly have no real idea when grief will pack her bags and move out. I know she is here to bring me a sense of peace, and I can’t rush her visit. I can only practice loving-kindness and patience with myself in the interim.

I carry grief and I can’t hide from her.

I can only hold onto the joy that still fills my heart like a distant memory. Joy has been imprinted so I can recall it with every sense of my body. Joy is feeling light.

It’s dancing in the rain and howling at the moon.

Joy and grief are on opposite spectrums of life and knowing joy can enable us to appreciate the necessity of being patient with grief.

When we rise from the depths of grief it probably won’t feel like a red velvet curtain has been drawn and we are standing golden on a snow-covered mountain top. It may feel like a bubbling up from the bottom of a dark underwater cave.

As each bubble rises, the heaviness of grief becomes lighter. We have more space within to experience something new.

We may feel relief, happiness, clarity, or even joy.

We may feel a connection to the most simple, yet profound aspects of our lives. 

Maybe when this happens we can offer grief a thank-you and politely send her on her way.


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