Is it just me? Didn't think so.
This past Saturday my cat of 11 years went out to explore and so far she hasn't come home. She's an indoor/outdoor cat and goes out almost daily to check out where the wild things are. But she always comes home. Except this time she hasn't come back (so far).
It's really upset me. I am in tears. I miss having her around and know her daily routine as well as I know my own. I love my companion animals as I love any person in my life. I felt waves of grief and overwhelm come over me. The worst part of her being gone is not knowing what happened to her, if she's okay and if she'll ever come back. As much as my heart hurts for her, I'm reminded once again about how impermanent life is. That no one we love belongs to us. We're always in flux.
Having to say goodbye without actually knowing if it's time for goodbye. Or the worst is having to say goodbye when you don't want to say goodbye.
Grief is the flip side of love. When we lose someone we love Grief is a reminder of how deeply we loved that being. I'm talking about my cat but I've also lost friends. The hardest loss I've gone through so far is my husband. Grief really did a number on my heart, my brain and my whole being. It's been almost 8 years and there are parts of me that are still hurting. In fact when I get stressed there are areas in my body that immediately flare up.
This is part of the reason I'm so committed to my daily self care. I don't want to regress into physical and emotional pain. It doesn't come from a place of fear. It comes from a place of love. Loving myself enough to take care of myself. There are two tools that I use daily to centre myself, release emotions and clear any thoughts that may be draining my energy.
The first thing I turn to on a daily basis is meditation. I started with Vipassana back in 2007 and this has remained my daily practice. Though Vipassana is my personal practice I don't always think it's suitable for all people at all times. If one has very anxious or hurtful thoughts it's best to find a meditation practice that's more of a walking meditation or something else that engages the mind away from harmful thoughts. Mantra or chanting can be a way to get your mind to change its thought patterns.
With walking meditation being in your body, in nature and moving is a great way to stay grounded in the present moment. If you're someone who's visual having a visualization practice that's centres on healing images or moving energy can also be beneficial. There are many options out there. Experiment until you find what resonates with you.
I have found that when Grief is quite intense there's alot of energy wanting to release through the body. Listen to your body. In this case it's often better to have short practice periods as long practice can be too much. When I was in the worst stages of shock and Grief after my husband's death I could only sit with myself for 10-15 minutes at a time. As my emotions released I was able to sit longer. Let it be whatever it is. Over time you'll be able to come home to your body as your emotions shift and change.
I wrote about gratitude in my ebook on my website. When I started my own gratitude practice I was still very much in a state of Grief. My mind had gotten used to having habitual thoughts that would trigger me back to sadness. It seemed I couldn't move past what had happened. My morning meditation helped me to release any surface emotions and helped with pain management but there was a dark cloud over me.
I had a coach who encouraged me to start a daily gratitude practice. It truly transformed my life! Over time it wired my brain for joy. The best way to do it is to write down three things in the morning and three things that night you're grateful for.
It can be anything. A flower in your garden, your morning cup of coffee, the warmth of your bed, literally anything that makes you feel grateful. There's research that shows over time practicing gratitude helps boost your mood and helps you manage stress more easily. Over and above that, gratitude helps you appreciate what's good in your life. Give it a try for a month. Do it daily and see what happens.
I wanted to share some of the tools that have helped move me through Grief. It's not a complete list. Grief also varies from person to person. We all deal with Grief differently but having a deep loss doesn't mean you need to get stuck in there. Life is meant to be lived. The hardest times in your life can also help you open up to a whole new world.
I hope the last couple of blogs have helped you. As you move through this life, may you find peace and love.
Photo Credit: Sage Friedman