Can Meditation Help With Grief?

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Updated: April 19, 2020

Posted: February 5, 2018

Years before I even thought about writing Mindfulness & Grief, I wondered… can meditation help with grief?

After all, meditation has been helping people liberate themselves from suffering for thousands of years, thanks to the Buddha and other spiritual teachers. It helps calm anxiety, release tension in the body, and helps you feel more capable of tending to your own pain.

So yes, meditation can help with grief. And in more ways than you may think.

If you are grieving the death of someone you care for deeply, you know first hand that grief is not something you can “fix” or make “go away.” And it is important for you to know that meditation for grief is not about trying to change reality. You can’t.

But what you can do is cultivate compassion for yourself, learn how to control the things you can (your attention, for one), and learn how to take care of yourself given the reality of the situation.

How Can Meditation Help With Grief?

Meditation can help with grief in a number of ways. In my years of teaching meditation for grief, I have learned that each person experiences their own set of benefits. Here are some of the most common benefits:

  1. Help you get back to sleep after losing a loved on by teaching you how to control your mind when it gets stuck in a cycle of thought. Learn more about grief and sleep.
  2. Manage the physical symptoms of grief, such as muscle tension, headaches, and unpleasant feelings in your chest and stomach.
  3. Boost your immune functioning so you are more likely to stay healthy during a time when your body is experiencing a barrage of stress.
  4. Cultivate mental resilience so you can feel less reactive and create a barrier against stress and trauma.
  5. Connect you more deeply to your own inner wisdom and insight so you can respond to what your body and spirit need while practicing self-compassion as self-care.
  6. Create a sense of connection with the people in your life and compassion for other people who are grieving so you feel less alone.

Is there a Particular Kind of Meditation that is Best for Grief?

Grief is a complex experience. There are many types of meditation for grief. Which type you choose will depend on what you are experiencing.

  • Focus and mantra meditations can help when you feel overwhelmed, scattered, or feel like you can’t wind down before bed.
  • Mindfulness meditation can help you bring your attention to the present moment, get to know your habits, choose where to place your attention, and savor what have.
  • Self-compassion meditation can help you to not be so hard on yourself, which we so often are when we are feeling the weight of grief.
  • Compassion meditation teaches you that you are part of a wide community of like-minded humans, all who suffer, and who want to be free from suffering.
  • Contemplative meditation can help you manage the difficult emotions of grief, plus tap into your own inner wisdom and insight, so you can live a more meaningful life.

Meditation For Grief Will Last A Lifetime

Many people seek out meditation for grief to help cope with the myriad of symptoms. Those that do report that it becomes a practice for life. From unexpected waves of grief, to a difficult coworker or an unexpected bill, meditation is a skill that will help you manage whatever life throws at you.

If you are ready to learn how meditation can help with grief, join the Mindfulness & Grief Online Meditation Group. You will experience practices to last a lifetime!

Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Mindfulness & Grief. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She is on the Advisory Board for the highly regarded military family survivor organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and is a faculty member of the Portland Institute of Loss & Transition, founded by Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer. She is also the host of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, founder of the Mindfulness & Grief Institute and the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland.

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