Conscious Grieving

The human emotion of grief is one of the most difficult experiences we encounter and it cannot be side tracked, it has to be felt. The early weeks, months and years of grief are brutal, and for some it can be never-ending. My position as a therapist equips me with lots of tools to use including effective techniques and coping skills, but in the early stages I just wanted grief to do its worst. Losing Matthew was overwhelming and I wasn’t looking for coping skills, effective techniques or a quick fix!

The pain of grief and loss is proof that we loved a very special person and the love we have for that person when they’re gone, has nowhere to go. Conscious grieving is about navigating the grief journey from a mindful perspective. (This may be easy to say three years after my son Matthew died but this may not be good advice for someone who is newly bereaved).

Over time the waves of grief come further and further apart, and you get a chance to catch your breath. Everyone experiences grief differently and there is no time limit to when this happens. When you get a space in between the waves you can choose to view your loss not as some tragic, random, meaningless life event, but as an opportunity to explore the bigger picture. This is when conscious grieving can become helpful.

Conscious grieving is an invitation to fully participate into the process and observe your thoughts and feelings. This could potentially help you develop an understanding that you do have a choice whether to tune into the pain and loss of your loved one, or tune into the love you still have for them. Conscious grieving unblocks a different perspective which cultivates a deeper self-awareness. This can then lead on to a healthy connection with the energy of your loved one.

I was overwhelmed with sadness recently by a song on the radio. It had sentimental meaning and a connection to Matthew and in that moment, I could have broken down and cried. The song had triggered me. I could have allowed myself to get dragged down into the grief vortex, but I took a moment and consciously thought about how this song had effected me. I could feel the pain of loss in my solar plexus, a tension across my chest, the tears pooling in my eyes and the sadness, such tremendous sadness in my whole body! Instead of breaking down, I put my hands on my heart and I spoke gently to my body. “I give you permission to be here, you can stay as long as you like, I love you, thank you.” I felt the love I had for Matthew deep inside and focused on this. Within a few moments, the sadness lifted and in my minds eye I could see Matthew smiling and looking happy.

I truly believe that when we make peace with our grief and loss moments, this sends peace to our loved ones too.

I hope this blog inspires you to become more mindful of your own grieving process wherever you are in your journey. Observe your thoughts and feelings and give them permission to be there. These thoughts and feelings are your body’s inner guidance system communicating with you. Send love to them. Talk to them. Do not resist them or push them down. Be gentle with yourself and respect the grieving process.

This ongoing reflection and inner work can help you move forward in a more positive way. There is no cure for grief. It can only be absorbed, carried, experienced and cared for.

I needed to feel frustrated in order to learn patience.
I needed to experience rejection in order to learn acceptance.
I needed witness suffering in order to learn compassion.
I needed to experience disappointment in order to learn appreciation.
Someone needed to hurt me in order to learn forgiveness.
I had to see doubt in order to learn trust.
Someone had to die in order to understand grief and loss.

I am still a work in progress!
Louise Bates