"I want to go through this just once - whether it takes a few days, a few months, or a few years." Those were the wise words of my dear friend as she asked me for some suggestions about how to navigate this new journey thrust upon her by the sudden death of her older brother. Two weeks ago, she was halfway around the world in Australia when she got that dreaded call in the middle of the night. He had been missing and then the police welfare check confirmed their worst fears, four days after he apparently died alone in his apartment. Shocked and stunned into paralysis, she sat on the edge of her bed unable to move, unable to put together a plan of what to do next. Literally, what to do next. Somehow, in a surreal blur of warp speed and slow motion, she made her way back to Albuquerque only to leave the next day for the funeral and then back home two days later. Events transpired so fast, even jet lag couldn't catch up with her until a few days ago.
Of course, I listened far more than I spoke, and then only to remind her of the need to drink plenty of water, eat nutritious food, get as much sleep as possible, trust love, and stay in today.
The Mindful Path of Grief
Within the embrace of today is this moment. Notice this moment. Notice that you are feeling; perhaps notice what you are feeling. With the gentleness and delicate care that you reserve for only your most beloved friend, gaze upon yourself with compassionate acceptance. Notice, too, that in this loving space, there is no need for "shoulds," no need for judgments, no need to be anything different from who you are right now. Grief is as unique as the proverbial snowflake. Each person's process is invented as it unfolds.
Perhaps you are in shock. Perhaps your mind is racing. Perhaps you are numb. You may want to withdraw. You may want to invite friends to come close. Maybe you want to talk. Maybe you want to scream. Maybe you want to sit and rock yourself in the dark. There is nothing to change; there is only to allow. Allow your natural instinct for self-compassion to guide your conscious process through this most sacred and searing time.
As much as possible, protect your physical space, time, and privacy to respond to whatever inclination your grief asks of you. Simplify your life; reduce your usual daily demands to only the most basic. This is the surest and safest path through this challenging journey.
Neither be averse nor attached to your experience. You don't need to be afraid of the pain. Even if you allow yourself to be overwhelmed with your pain, seemingly lost and alone, and beyond reach, you are not. You are tethered to your truth through your trust in a love-filled universe.
Let your friends love you. Let us lift you up when it is time for you to be lifted up.
You don't need to judge the waves, let alone name them. Just ride along with them, assured that you will be delivered safely to a better place. No feeling is too much or too little, too soon or too late. There is no normal; there is no abnormal. Follow your own lead as you compassionately witness yourself. Allowing yourself to be in this moment will mysteriously reveal your next steps. Trust that those steps will carry you to serenity.
Let your grief move through you. Notice it and respect its own wisdom to move beyond you. Do not insult your grief by clinging to it or identifying with it. It knows its rightful place is to merely touch you, like the alight of a butterfly upon your shoulder.
Grief is the ecstatic reminder that you have loved. Take comfort, even joy in the knowledge that you have fulfilled the purpose of your life, that you have willingly paid the price of deep love with the currency of deep pain. Perhaps you will even love again in your life because, having now come full circle, your healing teaches you that the pain of loss is the bittersweet affirmation of your highest accomplishment: you loved.
Do just these three things today:
Notice . . . . .
Accept . . . . .
Release . . . . .
Make this easy for yourself! Let me come to you!
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