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Grief And Meditation

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“You don’t move on from grief; you move forward with it.”

Nora McInery said that in her Ted Talk about grief and loss. She lost her child, her husband, and her father within two months. “So I’m fun; people love to invite me out,” she jokes. Grief, sadness, happiness, and love are strands in the same thread and not independent moments in time. 

We bring grief just as much as joy wherever we go, and they don’t get left behind. That’s why the emotion can come on as strong as it does when it resurfaces. It’s in us.

If there is one thing for sure, we all experience grief at some point. We share that experience as humans. Mediation is about sitting with these emotions, not working through them, but working with them to gain understanding, clarity, and compassion for what we’ve been through. 

Understanding Grief

Everybody experiences grief mildly, moderately, or with great intensity at some point. The power and the length of time we share with it scales with how close we are to the person, animal, or thing we lost.

It’s so dynamic that the passing of a loved one can be the cause or the relief of grief. It can surface in many scenarios. Imagine yourself on a scorching hot day. You’re parched. There is a glass of ice-cold water in front of you, and you want it. But, no matter how much you want it and how hard you try to reach it, it shifts outside your reach. 

If you can imagine that, you’re touching into grief. The brain areas associated with motivation, craving and pursuits are some of the primary circuits activated in the states of grief.

Yearning encompasses grief, and it comes with the understanding that someone is gone, but also with the acknowledgement that they will live on forever within us. 

The Role of Meditation in Grief

Meditation can change our experience and perspective of the emotions we face. Often, with grief comes stress, anxiety, sadness, and depression. And no matter how hard we try, it’s hard to quiet the mind. However, pushing the emotions to the side isn’t the way forward. Instead, bringing awareness to our feelings is how we move in harmony. 

Meditation becomes transformative as you pay attention more and suffer less. You learn how to move through emotions without getting bogged down by them.

Practicing Meditation for Healing

What is something that you’re clinging on to? Is it a conversation left unfinished, an unresolved argument, or perhaps a lingering sense of longing and frustration? Maybe it’s a physical object that’s become intertwined with your emotions over time. Clinging onto these aspects of our lives often leaves us feeling burdened, as if we’re carrying unnecessary weight.

As we get older, of course, losses mount, and the weight increases, the need for conscious grieving becomes more pronounced.

In episode two of Headspace’s Guide to Meditation: “How to Let Go,” the host, Andy Puddicombe, explores the concept of letting go of negative emotions and thoughts through meditation. The episode aims to help viewers develop greater emotional resilience through meditation.

Embracing Support and Acceptance

If grief can’t be prevented, what can we do? We can remind one another that some things can’t be fixed and not all wounds will heal. The last thing we want to hear when grieving is “to move on.” We’ll never move on.

The memory will always be sad and will hurt. Just like the best moments will always make us smile and laugh. Grief is mixed in with all the emotions. We don’t get to choose who shows up at our door.

But we can choose who we surround ourselves with. Ideally, it’s with people who carry space for all the emotions we experience.

Embracing Grief

Nora McInery’s insight resonates deeply: “You don’t move on from grief; you move forward with it.” Her wisdom, born of personal loss, weaves together the emotions of grief, happiness, sadness, and love as inseparable threads in life’s fabric. 

Meditation becomes our refuge, a space to coexist with these emotions—to acknowledge, understand, and nurture compassion for our experience. Recognizing that some wounds never fully heal and rejecting the idea of “moving on.”

About the author
Picture of Gabe Fontana

Gabe Fontana

A freelance writer who strives for clarity, brevity, and humanity. He takes complex topics and make them approachable and fun to read. Find him online at www.fontanacopy.com to view the breadth of his work.

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