Grief is a rollercoaster full of highs and lows and loops like no other. Sometimes it feels like you’re on it without a harness with no end in sight. A grieving person is said to go through stages of fear, depression, regret, anger and loneliness, sometimes all at the same time. No matter how you are feeling rest assured the intensity of these feelings will pass. Nothing is permanent in this world and you will be a stronger person for having gone through it.
When I was 21 I was losing my dad to cancer. It had returned and this time it was terminal. Doctors gave him a couple of days to live so I came home from University to be with him and he lasted six months. I learnt a lot from him during this time. Eventually he became at peace with his fate, let go of all attachment and just wanted to be with his family. We cared for him at home. The best and worst six months of my life. At this point I didn’t meditate often and instead numbed my self by smoking cannabis.
Immediately after his passing I went through a stage of ‘nothingness’ I would call it. I wasn’t there, wasn’t with it at all. The shock of losing someone makes you realise how many things we strive for on this planet just don’t matter. It brought me back down to the bare bones. I was just a being, one that was hurting. I couldn’t even speak at his funeral.
After this stage I felt very internal, constantly in my own head. Thinking, worrying about my mum, how life will be now, when will I feel better? So much goes through your head it’s easy to just want to block it all out. The first couple of months after were a blur. I wasn’t meditating and just kind of floating through life with no real direction.
I knew I couldn’t continue feeling this way and I needed to take back control of my mind. Instead of using cannabis as an attempt to block the persistent thoughts and feelings, I needed a better way to process my grief and still my mind. I needed to embrace the pain.
I started my practice again. Meditating allowed me to create space in my head to bring forward the emotions and memories I had buried deep down. I became more sensitive to emotions and feelings. I was at last no longer numb but the complete opposite. Although it is draining, it is important that we feel and process these emotions because if we block them out it can lead to physical and psychological problems. It is an amazing feeling to let it all out in whatever form. Whether laughter, crying or both sometimes. The energy needs to be released. Sing their favourite song and weep while you do it, it will soon turn to laughter and celebration of their life rather than a sadness they are no longer here.
For some, you might be feeling overwhelmed with emotions and feeling it all at once. Meditation can also offer you some space, a safe space to retreat and digest each feeling individually. It will allow you to become aware and observe the emotions and in general just slow down your thought process’.
Focus on Gratitude
Beginning a daily meditation after my Dad’s death helped me to focus on moving forward with a positive attitude towards life. I also practiced gratitude everyday and looked for things to be grateful for. During meditation I would connect energetically with my dad and thanked him for everything he taught me. A prayer if you like. Gratitude is magic, it can rewire your brain to become happier.
Just by writing a list of things you are grateful for before starting your day can lead to a more optimistic feeling rather the feelings of dread. I know we all say we are grateful but really lock this intention in and write it down. It’s not to say you’re ungrateful but to look for the positive in any situation will lead to a happier more fulfilled life.
Relapse is okay as long as you don’t lose your way.
I started to crack on and cope well, as well as one could anyway. I was able to be strong for my family. I had my network of support and I had my practice of meditation which I started to do again, not as often but it was there when I needed some silence and space.
Admittedly I did go to my family doctors several times when I was struggling over the course of the next couple of years. I think mainly for an outlet, someone I could just let it all out to. On the first two occasions the first thing they said to me after I broke down was “do you want medication.” The answer was no, I knew there were steps I could take before going down that road, including meditation and counselling.
The last time I went to the doctors I was probably going through my worse stage of grief, it was affecting my relationships, work and I was smoking a lot of weed. I told this doctor, a different one this time, that I was in a bad way. I was trying to practice meditation and gratitude but I was struggling with day to day activities, even to get out of bed. I was probably depressed.
He was the only one that didn’t offer me antidepressants. He told me to carry on with what I’m doing and after a couple weeks of hard meditation practice, positive affirmations and not smoking half as much I was feeling my self again. It’s okay to relapse. Just remember it too will pass. Be sure to ask for help when you do. Less Pharma, more Dharma (teachings of the Buddha.)
Don’t Stop Meditating
When you begin to feel better and life starts to move at a normal pace again, it can be easy to fall out of the habit of meditation. Nothing is permanent and as bad stages pass, good ones do to.
Continue to meditate during the good times, and when you do take a few steps back, you will be better prepared for it. Not only will it help with your grief moving forward but it will help in many other aspects of your life. Consistent meditation can help you achieve a peace of mind and clarity to direct your life the way you want it. You can read my blog post here about how it helped me in daily life and not just grief.
The origin of this quote is debatable but nonetheless I like it and have come across it many times, so I will end on this:
The Buddha was asked what it is he gains from meditation, his reply was “nothing at all,” “So blessed one, why do you do it”? His reply “Nothing is gained but what is lost is delusion, fear and greed.”
If he was asked today I bet he would say that what is lost is anxiety, fear and depression. It’s that magic pill everyone’s been waiting for, it just takes patience.
If you are experiencing grief right now as I know some people close to me are, my heart goes out to you. Sending you all the love and vibes for you to grow and develop from this. You can do it and remember they are always with us!