Can I share something personal with you?
My grandma passed away over the weekend. I’ve lost two grandmas and my stepmom this year. Having lost my mom, stepdad, and grandpa in the last decade, sometimes it feels like the people I love are constantly dying.
I’ve found a way of reframing my perception of “constant loss” that helps me to transform my grief into an experience I can bear. I’ll share this approach, as well as a meditation to help you, in a moment. But first, let’s look at loss.
What happens when you lose someone you love?
Losing a loved one is a life-altering experience. If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re familiar with the visceral pain of grief.
The grieving process varies for each person. It may include feelings such as anger, abandonment, sadness, anxiety, and guilt. And for the empaths out there…well, you may absorb a mixed bag of emotions from grieving loved ones in addition to your own, leading to more confusion and overwhelm.
Grief certainly isn’t linear. Grief ebbs and flows like waves of the sea.
But when a painful flood of emotion comes, we may feel despair and powerlessness. Grief can feel traumatic to the body. You may have difficulty breathing. Tension may gather in the abdomen, chest, or throat. Your immune system may weaken.
The way we carry emotion can make it challenging to step out of intense sadness.
While it’s vital that we allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of emotion, it also helps if we can find meaning from our experience.
When I find myself heading into an abysmal sadness, I reframe my loss.
Is it possible to feel gratitude for grief?
It may sound strange, but gratitude for grief is possible and transformative.
All of the losses I’ve experienced are reflective of the connections I’ve had in my life. These people I’ve loved and who have loved me have imparted many gifts for which I’m grateful.
Having worked in the child welfare system, I’ve known way too many children who literally have no one in their lives to lose other than a caseworker or therapist. Having no one to lose is a much more tragic in my opinion.
When I view loss in this way, my perspective begins to shift to gratitude for grief, which has a profound effect on my physical energy and mental health.
Gratitude is a practice that can transform our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors if we spend some time giving thanks from the heart.
I’ve recorded a guided gratitude for grief meditation for you based on the Buddhist “metta” lovingkindness meditation. The lovingkindness meditation invites the feeling of compassion. In this meditation, I’ve replaced compassion with gratitude.
Listen to: Gratitude for Grief Meditation
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.