Acknowledge – Often times, we do not take time to contemplate the entire event or death. I am a big believer of writing. Just writing 15 min a day for 3 days – writing in detail about your emotional pain and loss – is advocated by researcher James Pennebaker. Look at the loss and its impact on your life. There are often feelings of guilt and shame associated with the loss. Examine your perspective and the role of your loved ones. Acknowledge your feelings, emotions and thoughts. Consider writing a poem, an essay or creating a piece of art.
Meaning – explore the death, demise or breakup and understand the meaning. What went wrong, what is there to treasure, what will you miss. Meaning may change over time but take time to explore what this loss means to you right now. How has this loss or event impacted you and has defined you in the past and can guide you in the future. What lessons have you learned?
Serve and Honor – Many people donate money to their favorite causes. I urge you to volunteer and work in honor of the person or loss. Working in a local soup kitchen or animal shelter, participating in a charity walk, run or bike ride or helping people in distress are powerful ways to find an outlet for your memories.
Tribute to Miss Elizabeth Krause
Last year, I started this article to help friends of mine who have lost pets and wanted to understand how mindfulness can be used to cope with their loss. The article languished till I recently lost my friend Miss Elizabeth Krause rather suddenly to Ovarian Cancer. I have known her for 24+ years and it was hard to come in terms with her demise. I am attaching a 8 minute tribute video “5 lessons I learned from Ironman Elizabeth Krause”. The creation of this video helped me grieve for my friend. I hope you will be inspired by her message.
Professional Help and Support from Your Loved Ones
Grieving is a very personal and individual experience. Some people feel better in weeks and months but for some people it may take years. Please consider the services of a professional and reach out for support from your loved ones. Communication is a very important process. You are rarely alone; many people want to help you. Make sure you ask for help and accept the support that is meaningful to you.
Grieving for Pets
Often my students wonder about grieving for pets. While pet lovers can empathize with the broken heart, most others brush away these feelings of sorrow . . . it is just an animal, you can get another. Most pet lovers will tell you it is never that simple. Most pets give you unconditional love. Loss of this unconditional love affects us in many ways. Take time to follow the three practices outline for your pets also.
James W. Pennebaker (2004) Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval Center for Journal Therapy Inc. 178 pp
Sameet M Kumar (2005) Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss, New Harbinger Publications, 176 pp
Five Lessons Ironman Athlete Elizabeth Krause taught me! (Youtube Link)
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.