My exploration into mindfulness started with bereavement.

17 years (yes 17) after I’d experienced a sudden and close bereavement I realised that I had no emotional resilience. I’d just been trying to cope, reacting, darting around putting plasters on feelings.

Every time something difficult happened or I went to a funeral I was back at square one again.

I have come to realise that some of this was the experience of trauma but I wanted to have skills and tools to help balance life events as well as being a mum, a partner and working.

What if this training of mindfulness worked, what would that be like, what if I could be self-reliant?

I’d been aware of this word ‘mindfulness’ and I was curious to see if I could manage this ‘brain training’

Feeling the relaxing effects of mindfulness is relatively fast but it takes time and bravery to persist and to learn to relate differently to the world around and to the feelings and emotions this might evoke up in your mind and body. Learning to ‘be’ with the pleasant and the unpleasant with kindness and compassion is a skill.

I have experienced grief with and without mindfulness. I can write with confidence that, for me, whilst it is still crippling grieving mindfully is ENTIRELY different.

A year ago, one of my oldest friends died. For many months I relied very closely on the skills of mindfulness to help me navigate through this time.

For me, the differences in bringing a mindful awareness to my experiences of grief were immense. I felt more able to be with my feelings and emotions just as they were.

Here are 8 key differences I noticed with a mindful approach to grief:

– When emotions felt very strong, I was able to take time out and access a set of skills I knew I had. With these skills I was able to see how I was, to check in on my own landscape of emotions.

– Sometimes I could simply take refuge in the body and connect to the breath in very gently and kindly way.

– Consistent but small mindful practices stopped the racing thoughts, even for a while

– When I felt overwhelm I was able to gently explore my feelings and emotions (one by one, tree by tree) and investigate …here’s sadness, here is overwhelm and unsteadiness, here’s worry and then gradually I was able to notice some ok-ness, a bit of calm, a nice moment..

– I could choose to connect inwardly with my loved one at a time that is very busy and rushed

– Whilst in the depths of grief I felt flattened but I didn’t feel lost

– In the midst of turmoil I could feel safe and protected

– This self reliance helped me to reassure my family as to how I was feeling. It also encouraged open communication with my children.

Ultimately I came out of those first months feeling more whole than I have done before. I felt able to carry on with life, even with this new bereavement being a part of it.

The experience of bereavement is uniquely different for everyone, how varying or intense the emotions are, how complicated or how long it may last for are questions no-one can answer.

Yet there are some common emotions associated to grieving such as sadness, pain, overwhelm, anxiety, disbelief, abandonment and loneliness. We can seek the love and kindness of family and friends and theraputic support but what skills are there to navigate these times with self reliance and some kind of inner knowing?

If you would like to know more about mindful grief support for you or your organisation please book a call

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This article is written by Georgie from Time For The Mind – Mindfulness, Well-being & Bereavement Coach.

I hope this blog is useful to you. Do get in touch with any questions I’d love to hear from you.

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