Meditation for Grief
Posted by Vicki Foreman, Bereavement Counselor
The death of a loved one…it’s the single most stressful event in life. When you are thrown into grief, the feelings can be overwhelming and so personal that we (and others) often have a hard time understanding them. The pain of grief after losing a loved one has been described as “losing an arm; it takes time to process the enormity of the loss, it feels like it should still be there and you keep trying to use it but it’s gone…everything and I mean EVERYTHING is so hard to do.”
Grief often throws us into a perpetual state of fight or flight; in other words--stress. Not only are you dealing with a broken heart, but you’re also not feeling well physically, as stress lowers immunity and exacerbates many serious health concerns such as anxiety, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure and digestive issues. Grief affects every level of our being: emotional, physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual. Common reactions to grief in addition to feeling sad are loneliness, hopelessness, restless, inability to control emotions, poor concentration and decision-making, problems sleeping (too much or too little), anger, fear, guilt, exhaustion, relationship problems and depression.
Meditation is an excellent coping skill, as it not only acts as a counter-reaction to stress but also brings a sense of peace and tranquility –also known as the “relaxation response.” Meditation helps manage the trauma and stress of grief, affording a much-needed respite from emotional turmoil. It also helps to physiologically offer relief as it balances blood flow, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen to the brain. In its most basic sense, it gives us a chance to breathe. Other benefits of meditation include improved sleep, boosted immune functioning, and enhanced executive function/decision-making. Meditation will support the process of slowing the heartbeat, attending to self-compassion and self-care, and offering non-judgmental awareness, which helps us move through “grief work” with better understanding and wisdom.