5 Tips for Coping With Grief During The Holidays

Grief During The Holidays

It is no secret that many of us find the holidays stressful even when we are not grieving. However if you are trying to survive grief during the holidays, here are five tips to help you reduce your suffering and approach this holiday season mindfully. Schedule your downtime. Taking some time out for yourself is the first step to reducing stress. Whether you choose to set aside a whole day to be by yourself on a private retreat, or take 10 minutes in the morning to sip a cup of tea and simply breathe, write your plan down on a calendar or … [Read more...]

5 Stages of Grief: Are They Real?

Stages of Grief

Driving home a few nights ago, I was shocked to hear soundbite from a famous Sirius talk-show psychologist tell a jilted caller that she "had to go through the five stages of grief" just as if her ex had died. She ticked them off - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance - as though we all should understand that this is "right" way to handle a break up or death of a loved one. My gripe isn't that she compared a break-up to a death - the two loss experiences can feel very similar - though we must acknowledge some very real … [Read more...]

Guided Meditation for Grief and Loss

Guided Meditation for Grief and Loss

During this guided meditation for grief and loss, you will have the opportunity to explore your grief without becoming grief itself. Grief leaves most of us feeling unhinged, unsure of where to begin our healing journey. I recorded this guided meditation for grief and loss with the hope that it can be an anchor during tough times. Mourning a loved one is a balancing act - we naturally engage in the dual process of grief - moving back and forth between immersing ourselves in loss and navigating our way through the life that is left beyond the … [Read more...]

“Out Of The Darkness” Walk – Suicide of Suicide Loss Speech

Out of the Darkness Walk

The following is the transcript from Heather Stang's Survivor of Suicide Loss speech at the 2014 Out Of The Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention in Frederick Maryland on September 6th in Baker Park. The research data tells us that more than 38,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2010 – that is one death by suicide every 13.7 minutes. 90% of these people had a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder at the time of their death. We’ve gathered here today to raise awareness, decrease the stigma, and support research that will help … [Read more...]

Yoga Poses for Grief

I am often asked by students and yoga professionals alike for a list of the best yoga poses for grief. We all agree that physical symptoms of grief add insult to injury, and know that yoga can help reduce the stress reaction, which in turn will quiet your mind and soothe your spirit. The physical sensation of stretching will give your mind somewhere to focus other than on intrusive thoughts about the past and future. There is certainly a short list of yoga poses that I use most often when working with a grieving body - be it my own or … [Read more...]

Organ Donation: My Stepfather’s Living Legacy

Organ Donation: My Stepfather's Living Legacy

This Wednesday marks the five year anniversary of my stepfather’s sudden death of a pulmonary embolism, just after he returned home from surgery at the Washington Hospital Center. He had a fatty tumor located near his heart removed. His best friend picked him up and drove him home. My stepfather walked over the threshold of his rented rancher and said “I think I overdid it.” With these final words he fell to the ground. I imagine this phrase was intended to describe the day's events - but they also summed up his life. Tom Clark was a … [Read more...]

Video: How To Structure An 8 Week Mindfulness & Grief Group

Mindfulness & Grief Groups

[youtube]BDBJGtrGc_s[/youtube] The practice of mindfulness can help bereaved people steady their mind, relax their body, and make meaning from their loss. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with an attitude of equanimity. It cultivates the ability to stay calm even in the midst of pain. Rather than running away from the pain of grief or obsessing over it, the mindfulness practitioner is taught to take refuge in the experience of the present moment using the six senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and … [Read more...]

6 Steps to Create a Daily Yoga for Grief Practice

6 Steps to Create a Daily Yoga for Grief Practice

Precautions: The first principle of yoga is ahimsa: nonviolence. Practice nonviolence to yourself by not causing your body any physical pain during your practice. If you are under medical supervision, check in with your practitioner before embarking on a yoga practice. Why Practice Yoga For Grief When faced with a great loss our body, mind and spirit may feel broken. Yoga can bring us back together, one piece at a time. The word yoga means union, or "to yoke." The practice of yoga is more than a physical exercise, it helps make us whole … [Read more...]

Grief & Sleep: 6 Tips To Cope With Insomnia After Loss

Grief & Sleep

Grief comes with a myriad of physical side effects. Sleeplessness is perhaps one of the most frustrating symptoms - when you are sleepy and can’t sleep it just adds insult to injury. While insomnia is considered a common grief reaction, sleeplessness should not be ignored, but tended to mindfully. When we don’t get enough sleep it impacts our immune system, our mood, and our ability to handle our day-to-day tasks. Simply put, a lack of sleep can make us feel worse. If you are experiencing grief and sleep loss, there are many possible causes. … [Read more...]

The Relaxation Response for Grief & Stress

Frozen Winter Scene

We now have scientific proof that the mind can heal the body. Dr. Henry Benson Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing One of the most helpful relaxation techniques I have encountered is called the Relaxation Response. Coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, cardiologist and founder of Harvard’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, this practice has been proven time and again to lower stress levels, reduce blood pressure, and increase well-being. In fact, the Relaxation Response is the antidote to the … [Read more...]

The Dual Process Model of Grief: Navigating the Spiral

The Dual Process Model of Grief: Navigating the Spiral

For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed Many people wonder if their experience of grief is normal. C.S. Lewis asks this in his eloquent prose, and in his book A Grief Observed continues the inquiry- wondering if he is spiraling up or down. While grief is like a roller coaster, and rarely feels “normal,” most of us have the natural capacity to make it to the other … [Read more...]

Coping With Grief In Your Body: A Relaxation Exercise

Coping With Grief In Your Body: A Relaxation Exercise

The hurt burrows into the tissues of our body and the fiber of our mind and contracts around pain, turning it into suffering. The unwillingness to touch our pain with mercy, even with forgiveness, amplifies our discontent answers our life out of tune. Steven Levine, Unattended Sorrow It is not only your heart that suffers when you grieve the loss of a loved one.  For most of us, our body feels the icy pain of loss and collapses in on itself. You will certainly experience the physical aspects of grief in your own way, but some of the … [Read more...]

A Different Kind Of New Year: Coping With Grief In “The Year of Firsts”

A Different Kind Of New Year: Coping With Grief In "The Year of Firsts"

I needed to be alone so he could come back. This was the beginning of my year of magical thinking. - Joan Didion,  The Year of Magical Thinking When someone we love dies it is not uncommon to have moments where we expect them to return to us. We absentmindedly set the table for two, or pick up the ringing phone and expect it to be their voice on the other end of the line. While not everyone who grieves will experience this magical thinking, it may help to know that it is normal, at least for a period of time. When you think about it, … [Read more...]

Compassion During The Holidays – Free Meditation Download

Compassion During The Holidays - Free Meditation Download

The winter holiday season is supposed to be about cheerful things - like loving your neighbor and sending compassion to those less fortunate. This can be easy to do when things are going well. But what happens when you are feeling the pain of grief, when you are missing someone you love very much, and all around you are reminders to feel "cheerful," but that is the exact opposite of how you feel? If you try to force yourself to feel good, it will more than likely  backfire and make you feel worse. A more skillful approach is the mindful one: … [Read more...]

Grief Journaling

Grief Journaling

As you begin to reconnect with your body, you may start to hear whispers (or even shouts) of wisdom coming from within. You may wish to take note of these signals, quite literally, for it is easy for the mind to forget insights almost as quickly as they arise when you are working through grief. This is why it is a great idea to keep a grief journal. In the book Lessons of loss: A Guide to Coping Dr. Robert Niemeyer explains “Especially when losses are traumatic, they may be difficult to discuss or even disclose to another. And yet the … [Read more...]

Breathing Exercise for Grief & Stress

Meditation Room

Breathing exercises are one of the most helpful things you can do when you are grieving or stressed.  This week you will focus on an expansive breathe exercise called the Three Part Breath. It will deepen your connection to your body and help you bring conscious awareness to the present moment. Tension in your body will release, and your mind can take a break from worrying about the past or future, which is often a side effect of grief. Breathing Exercise For Grief: The Three Part Breath Precautions: If you feel lightheaded or dizzy during … [Read more...]

Healing Grief in the Body with Gentle Awarenes

Healing Grief in the Body

When your heart aches the perspective on life narrows; The panorama of a once full life zooms in to the detail of suffering, and the body closes in on itself in an attempt to protect the heart from further pain. In yoga we call this a body coping strategy. While your body thinks it is doing you a favor by protecting you, in reality it is most likely causing more aches and pains by holding onto tension. Can you imagine what it might be like to give your body a time out from holding all that stress? You can, and it only takes a few minutes to … [Read more...]

6 Mindful Strategies to Recover from the Shock of Loss

It is easy to become overwhelme­d in the face of loss and world crisis, and yet we have this gift of mindfulnes­s to keep us sane and even grow through it all. Your 6 points are spot on. We have to have support, we have to get to know ourselves better, and we have to envision (and eventually act) on the reconstruc­ted life after loss. I teach Yoga for Grief (which relates to point 6: Practice Mindfulnes­s), and am posting 8 mindfulnes­s based exercises for grief. I will read your book and will add it to my mindful grief resource list. Thank … [Read more...]

New Ways of Thinking About Grief

Thank you Craig for bringing up the "time is a healer" myth. Psychologi­st and thanatolog­ist Dr. Robert Neimeyer (and his crew at the University of Memphis, including Joe Currier) report that time only has a 1% effect on bereavemen­t. It isn't the amount of time, but what is done with the time that matters. (Yes, many of us know that line is often uttered by well meaning people who have no idea what to say, however it is nice to have some mathematic­al data to back it up.) Jai! Heather Whittingto­n www.mindfu­lgrief.comMore on Death Read the … [Read more...]