How Meditation Can Help You Overcome The Loss Of A Loved One
Losing someone near and dear to us is never easy. Grief brought on by the loss of a loved one is the deepest form of sorrow there is. Unfortunately, it is something that all of us will have to experience at some point in our lives. Death is a natural occurrence that is beyond our control.
Feeling grief for our loss is normal and natural as well. However, grief is painful, and if experienced for too long can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental health. There is no right amount of time to grieve for someone, but we should recognize that no amount of our own suffering will bring our loved one back.
Meditation for grief can help to alleviate some of the pain we are enduring because of our loved one’s passing. While there are many things that are beyond our control, it is possible to take control over our state of mind. Meditation techniques for grief can help us work through our grief in a healthy way and handle the painful emotions we are experiencing.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation can be defined as a means of transforming the mind using techniques that help encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Meditation focuses on developing concentration, clarity of the mind, emotional positivity, and promoting a calm state of being.
By consistently engaging in meditation practices, you will learn to rewire the habitual thinking patterns of your mind. This in turn can help you to cultivate new, positive thought patterns that will ultimately help you achieve a happier state of mind and being.
Meditation techniques have been practiced for thousands of years by people of almost every culture. Nearly every religion including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism have adopted meditation as a religious practice. Although most commonly associated with religion, meditation can be useful to anyone regardless of their faith.
In recent years, meditation has been recommended as a self-care ritual to help individuals better cope with mental health conditions including stress, anxiety, depression, and even grief.
What Are The Benefits Of Meditation?
The benefits of meditation have long been touted by religious leaders and mental health coaches for years as being the key to living a healthier, more peaceful life. Some of the most common benefits attributed to meditation are reduced stress, controlling anxiety, increased emotional health, enhanced self-awareness, increased focus, reduced memory loss, increased empathy, improved sleep, help with fighting addictions, decreased blood pressure, and decrease in depression.
One of the most common reasons people decide to take up meditation is to reduce stress. Many things can affect our stress levels throughout the day including work, school, kids, relationships, and finances.
If stress is not handled properly it can sometimes cause us to lash out on our loved ones, or engage in self destructive behavior.
Using meditation techniques can help to calm the mind and allow us a clearer way of looking at our problems. It’s also been proven to reduce the inflammatory response in our bodies caused by having too much of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Our bodies produce cortisol when we are in stressful situations. When we produce too much, however, it can cause harmful side effects such as depression, fatigue, and high blood pressure.
Meditation’s effect on lowering stress levels can in turn reduce anxiety as well. One study has shown that those with generalized anxiety disorder reported feeling less symptoms of anxiety after participating in an 8-week meditation program than those in the control group.
This is because meditation’s positive effect on our mood helps decrease the negative thinking patterns that generally lead us to becoming overwhelmed with anxiety.
INCREASED EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Our thoughts about how we view ourselves plays an important role in developing our self-esteem. If our thoughts about ourselves are generally positive, we tend to have higher self-esteem. If we continuously think negative things about ourselves, our self-esteem becomes lower.
When we use meditation to redirect our thoughts to thinking better about ourselves, we can increase our self-esteem.
Higher self-esteem is linked to higher confidence, being more assertive with your needs and opinions, the ability to form healthy relationships, and being more resilient to stress and setbacks.
Some forms of meditation may help you increase your self-awareness by helping you to develop a better understanding of yourself. Taking the time to self-reflect can help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and any self-defeating thought processes that may be contributing to them.
Practicing mindful meditation may increase your awareness of how others perceive you and therefore help you navigate relationships better.
In a study of 153 adults asked to use a mindfulness meditation app for 2 weeks, participants reported reduced feelings of loneliness and increased social contact compared with the control group.
Meditation can be used to increase your focus and attention span. By participating in meditation techniques for just 13 minutes a day you can increase your focus and attention span in just 8 weeks.
When you discipline your mind to concentrate on one thought, mantra, or image during meditation, that discipline carries over into other areas of your life.
Experience with meditation has been linked to improved attention span and accuracy in completing tasks, which can be of great help when it comes to your work. Moreover, meditation is said to reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind wandering, worry, and poor attention.
REDUCE MEMORY LOSS
Keeping your brain stimulated through repeated bouts of increased focus may keep your mind young. Studies have shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya improves performance on neuropsychological tests in people with age-related memory loss.
Kritan Kriya is a form of meditation that involves combining a mantra or chant with repetitive motions of the fingers to focus your thoughts.
Multiple styles of meditation have also been found to improve memory and mental quickness in older adults. It can even help partially improve symptoms of those who suffer with dementia.
Meditation focused on developing love and kindness for yourself, and others helps people learn how to be kinder and more forgiving. This kind of meditation promotes positive feelings about oneself and others, leading to increased compassion.
Being able to be more empathetic towards others improves understanding of our relationships. It ultimately helps us to relieve the stress associated with any anger or resentment we otherwise might have felt about our loved ones or peers.
Those who suffer from insomnia know all too well how frustrating it is to not get a restful night's sleep. Meditation has been linked to helping people stay asleep longer and reduce the severity of insomnia.
Practicing mindful meditation techniques can help to control or redirect racing thoughts that largely contribute to our inability to sleep at night. Additionally, meditation helps your body relax into a calmer state that can make it easier for you to drift off to sleep.
HELP WITH FIGHTING ADDICTIONS
Meditation may help you break dependencies by helping you to increase yourself control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors. Discipline of the mind is a major theme in meditation. It’s this discipline that may help people overcome their urge to act on their addictive triggers.
By redirecting their attention and learning to manage their emotions and impulses, people with addictions may find it easier to break out of their addictive habits.
DECREASE BLOOD PRESSURE
In studies done with over 1000 participants, meditation was shown to decrease blood pressure in those with a prior history of high blood pressure. This is because meditation appears to relax the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension, and the “fight-or-flight” response we feel in stressful situations.
Meditation focuses on easing your mind from worrisome thoughts, thus decreasing your stress levels and lowering your blood pressure.
Depression can be caused by numerous factors as well as from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Most cases of depression are coupled or caused by our own negative thoughts. Meditation can help you uncover why you are having those negative thoughts and how to change them.
Meditation teaches you to focus on the present situation and not to dwell on the past or future. Most of our troubles stem from the “what ifs”, which meditation teaches is irrelevant.
Meditation teaches us how to better cope with our emotions so that we can live our lives more purposefully.
Are There Different Types Of Meditation?
Meditation can be used to improve various physical and mental health issues. It’s important to note, however, that there are different forms of meditation that may be more helpful depending on your desired outcome. Certain types of meditation may work better for some people depending on personal preferences.
Below are 6 types of meditation you may find useful in your journey through emotional healing with meditation
Mindfulness meditation is simply learning to be fully present with your thoughts. This type of meditation can be practiced anywhere, but most people will find it helpful to sit in a quiet place where they can close their eyes and focus on their breathing.
While sitting quietly, you should be aware of your thoughts and emotions, and observe them without judgement. Being mindful helps in everyday situations where we need to better control our reactions to what is going on around us.
Mindfulness meditation teaches us to observe our thoughts and feelings before we react.
Unlike many forms of meditation, spiritual meditation’s main purpose is not meant to be a relaxation technique but rather a way to connect with a higher power. For some that may be their religious God, the Universe, or even their Highest Self.
This kind of meditation focuses on developing a greater understanding of spiritual or religious meaning and connection with a higher power. Spiritual meditation is best practiced alone in a quiet environment free of any distraction.
During this type of meditation, individuals should focus on their feeling of being one with their surroundings. They can do this by focusing on their breathing and listening to their heartbeat.
A mantra meditation involves chanting either a syllable, word, or phrase repeatedly throughout your meditation. Mantras can either be spoken out loud, whispered to yourself, or repeated in your mind.
The type of mantra you choose depends on why you are meditating. If you are using meditation for healing emotional pain for example, you would choose a word or phrase that holds power for you.
In this case, something along the lines of “I am whole as I am” or “I am healing and becoming stronger” may be helpful. However, the mantra is entirely up to the individual.
PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION MEDITATION
This type of meditation is most helpful for reducing stress and anxiety, both of which can have physical effects on our body. Your muscles react to stress and worry by tightening up, causing you aches and pains.
Progressive relaxation meditation helps you release the tension brought on by stress, by working through every part of the body. The practice involves purposefully tensing one muscle at a time, and then releasing the tension while noticing the contrasting feeling of relaxation.
The method should be repeated for every body part until a whole-body release and relaxation is felt.
In visualization meditation, you are to picture positive images, ideas, or symbols in your mind while you focus on your desired meditative outcome.
For example, if you are working on self-healing meditation, you might want to picture yourself living a happy, healthy life. You can also partner visualization with mantra techniques for an even stronger self-healing meditation.
In this case, quietly whispering the phrase “I am happy and healthy” to yourself may make for a more powerful meditative experience.
A guided meditation is when a teacher or narrator leads you through the meditation either in person or via audio or video.
Beginners to meditation may find this method helpful when first learning meditation practices. The teacher or narrator will help explain how to better focus the mind during the meditation.
They may also better explain the meditation techniques and how to apply them to your everyday life.
While the pain of losing a loved one never truly goes away, in time our sadness will gradually ease. This does not mean we forget the ones we lost, but rather we are able to look back on our memories of them with fondness instead of pain.
Healing with meditation is certainly possible, though it may not be the only method in which we deal with our grief. If you find yourself overcome with emotion and are struggling to return to your normal activities, it may be helpful for you to try out a meditation for healing emotional pain.
There are grief meditation techniques you can try to help you deal with the intense emotional despair brought on by your loss.
Healing with meditation takes time, as any sort of healing does. But by consistently practicing self-healing meditation techniques, you can alleviate much of the pain you are feeling by understanding how to deal with your emotions.
A Simple Guide To Meditation For Grief
Meditation is used to cope with an array of our emotions, including grief. Losing a loved one is never easy and can (understandably so) place a toll on our mental health. There is no right or wrong way to grieve a loved one. We may feel emotions ranging from sadness, to anger, abandonment, and even fear.
While it’s normal, and even healthy, to experience these emotions during the grieving process, they can sometimes consume our lives. It’s important to remember that while our loved ones are no longer with us, we still have longer to go. There is no shame or judgement in wanting to heal and move on from the pain felt by the loss of their presence.
If you want to learn how to meditate to heal faster, you must first recognize that the process is not an easy fix. Learning how to meditate will take time. That’s alright. You are in the process of grieving, and you should not be so hard on yourself.
Focusing your mind to think about anything other than your lost loved one will be a challenge at first. You might find it difficult to let go of the pain that comes with your memories of the past. Meditating for grief does not focus on helping you forget those memories, but how to remember them without feeling so saddened.
Below are several self-healing meditation techniques you can try for managing your grief. For these meditative practices, as with most any meditative practices, it’s best to find a quiet place where you will be free of interruptions or distractions. There is no wrong or right amount of time to meditate, but for best results aim for at least 10 minutes a day.
As you progress along your meditative journey you can gradually increase that length of time. It’s also important to think about your breathing while meditating. Focus on taking deep, slow breaths to relax your body and mind.
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION FOR GRIEF
A mindfulness meditation helps you to calm your mind amid all the emotional chaos that can ensue after a loved one's passing. Rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness meditations will teach you to focus on the now, and any other bodily sensation you are experiencing in that moment.
This doesn’t mean pretending everything is okay, but rather choosing to accept what is, and focusing on the present.
Mindfulness Meditation Steps: Start by closing your eyes and listening to your breathing. Try to clear your mind by focusing your attention on how your body is feeling at that moment. Notice how your chest rises and falls with every breath. Feel how relaxed your shoulders are as you roll them back, relieving them of tension.
Listen to the white noise of the A/C as it continuously blows out cool air. Let your thoughts leave you as you focus simply on how you are feeling right then.
When thoughts do arise, which they will, accept them and let them pass. Imagine your thoughts are like a stream of bubbles passing through your mind. You are the observer watching them pass as they make their way through the stream and out of your mind.
The more you practice letting your thoughts go, the easier it will be to clear your mind.
Mindfulness meditation for grief can be helpful for those looking for some respite for any and all emotions they may be feeling.
SPIRITUAL MEDITATION FOR GRIEF
You may find it helpful or comforting to think of your deceased loved one in a better place than they were on earth. Many religions and spiritualities believe that death is only a journey to a higher plane of existence.
They also believe that it is possible to be able to connect to these higher planes of existence through meditation. Engaging in a spiritual meditation may help you feel more connected to your loved one, wherever it is they are on their spiritual journey.
Spiritual Meditation Steps: Start by envisioning your whole body being enveloped in a warm, loving light. Now imagine that this warm, bright light is your loved one, reaching out from beyond to calm and comfort you.
It may be helpful to imagine them smiling down upon you from a safe place up above. Or you could imagine that you have a direct telepathic line between you and your loved one. You can say whatever it is you would like to say to them in your mind.
It might be helpful for you to hold something of theirs while you are doing this meditation. It could be an article of their clothing, their favorite book, or their favorite coffee mug.
Having something of theirs nearby may make you feel a closer connection to them while you meditate. Jewelry made with ashes can make people feel closer to their loved ones when they wear it on a daily basis.
It may be helpful to wear something like this while you are trying to establish a connection with your loved one through meditation.
COMPASSION MEDITATION FOR GRIEF
The passing of a loved one is not only hard for us, but for others around us as well. It can be difficult to deal with the types of emotions and stress we are feeling in the aftermath. Grieving is not a one size fits all, everyone deals with it differently.
Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves for not handling grief the way we think we should. Furthermore, we can be hard on others for not dealing with grief the way we think they should.
Feelings of anger or resentment towards ourselves or others can make the grieving process harder. These negative emotions can make us feel lonelier than we are already feeling.
Practicing a compassion meditation for grief can help you connect more deeply to yourself and others. Choosing to have compassion for ourselves means we accept that we are doing the best we can during our grieving process.
We can also choose to have compassion for others around us for handling grief the best way they know how. By being more understanding of ourselves and others, we may find it easier to share our experiences, therefore feel less lonely in our grief.
Compassion Meditation Steps: Begin a compassion meditation for grief by sitting quietly with your thoughts. Close your eyes and let any and all emotions you are feeling come to the surface. Accept them for what they are without judgement.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. Allow yourself to feel these emotions, then come to acceptance of your situation.
Recognize that we must all do what we need to, to heal and move on with our lives. Hold no judgement for how you, or others around you choose to do so. Imagine a magic key made of light that is unlocking your heart to let out all of the pain and sadness you’ve been holding inside. Finally, you are free to be happy again.
Sometimes it may help to have a symbol of remembrance of your loved one to feel as if they are still with you. This can help in your grieving process to assure yourself that you have not forgotten them. Remembrance jewelry might be a good way of reminding yourself that you can still think of them, even as you move on with your life.
Are There Other Resources To Help With Meditation For Grief?
Meditation is an ancient practice that has existed for thousands of years. There are plenty of resources for learning about the healing power of meditation for grief. Your personal preferences will determine which type of meditation resources are right for you.
A quick Google search will show you what has been previously written about meditation for grief for people like you who are interested in learning. You may also stumble upon an online community of others who are practicing meditation for grief. Being able to connect with other people who are sharing your experience can be comforting and helpful.
Additionally, you may find plenty of meditations for grief in audio and video format on YouTube. Searching for guided meditations for grief or guided meditation for healing will provide you with free guided meditations for practicing on your own.
YOGA MEDITATION FOR GRIEF
Sometimes local yoga studios will have meditation classes that are specific for grief. Even if you have never done yoga before, there is no reason not to start. Yoga is another ancient practice that is tied very closely to meditation. It has powerful effects on the mind body connection that may make it easier to get into a meditative state.
It is also a full body exercise that will help to reduce tension built up from grief, and release endorphins to relieve depression. Taking part in a group yoga meditation for grief may also help you feel less alone, as you will be with people who are experiencing the same thing as you are.
BOOKS ON MEDITATION
Books are always great resources for learning more about any given subject. Head to your local library or bookstore to find books on meditation for grief. Books will teach you more in-depth practices for meditating, as well as provide you with more history on the practice.
Many books also come in audio versions that you can listen to while driving in the car or sitting quietly at home. If you have a hard time finding books at your local library or bookstore, check online for more options.
Nowadays there is an app for everything, including meditation. Both Apple and Google provide free apps for meditation that you can download right to your phone. Having a meditation app on your phone will make it easier for you to meditate wherever you are.
It’s easy enough to plug some headphones in and listen on your way to work or while taking the dog for a walk. Similarly, meditation podcasts have this same advantage. Research meditation podcasts to find one that might be right for you.
TALK TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
For some people it might be easier to learn from, or learn with, a trusted friend or family member. If there is someone in your life you think might be willing to help you, it is worth reaching out to them. Having a teacher or partner can help you stay on track with your meditative practices and ensure you continue to improve. It may make you feel more motivated to practice meditation if you have someone to do it with.
Although typically not free, a meditation workshop could be helpful if you can afford to spend the money. Many workshops come in the form of weekend retreats that aim to give you the most zen-like atmosphere possible. These workshops are taught by experts in the field of meditation whose job it is to guide you through the meditations.
A workshop could be both an informative and transformative experience, as many people find them to be enlightening. If anything, a workshop may be a way for you to connect with other like-minded individuals who are on their own journey to healing through meditation.
Meditation For Grief Frequently Asked Questions
Does meditation help with grief?
Meditation can help with grief in that it helps us process our emotions more efficiently. Although it cannot take away the pain we feel, meditation can change our perspective and experience of our feelings. Meditation teaches us that we are not at the mercy of our thoughts, and that we can change them to change our experience of life.
How do you meditate after a death?
Begin by finding a quiet space where you can sit, relaxed, with no distractions. Close your eyes and begin breathing in and out slowly. Do your best to focus on nothing but your breathing. Any painful memories or fearful thoughts are to be let go at this moment. Continue to let yourself breathe and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. All the while focus on your breathing and letting go of any thoughts that bring you grief.
How do I release my grief?
In order to release your grief, you must first accept it. Death is a natural part of life, and although sad and sometimes too soon, it cannot be changed. Once you come to terms that your loved one will no longer be in your life, you can begin to heal.
There is nothing more you can do to change the past. You must now envision a new life for yourself without them, though you will always keep them in your heart.
Having a token in the form of keepsake jewelry can help you to remember them wherever you go. Photo engraved jewelry of your loved one or even more personal thumbprint jewelry is a special way to keep their memory alive even after they are gone.
Can someone teach me how to meditate to help me with my grief?
Yes, meditation can be taught. There are meditation classes as well as meditation workshops that are led by experts to help guide you through the meditation process. Additionally, there are plenty of free online guided meditations for grief that may be just as helpful.
How do you do mediation for self-healing?
Meditating can have powerful self-healing effects on our mind and body. To meditate for self-healing, start with 10 to 20 minutes a day of repeating a positive, healing mantra to yourself while you relax and focus on keeping positive energy.
The mantra can be either said out loud to yourself or inside your head only. A positive, healing mantra could be something like “Everything I need to heal is already within me” or “I am content with myself and my life.”
Can meditation speed up healing for grief?
Meditation can speed up healing for grief because it can help us come to terms with our situation faster. Meditation can rewire the brain to focus our attention on more positive aspects of our life, rather than the negative or sad ones. It can help us handle our emotions, therefore allowing us to move on faster.
Letting Go Of Grief
Healing from your grief is an individual process that does not have a definite time span. How long you grieve will depend on your own emotional healing process. Some people are able to heal faster while others need more time. This is not concurrent with how much or little you cared for your loved one. It just means that we all handle emotional stress differently.
While meditation for grief can be helpful for many, there are numerous other resources available. You may find that one or multiple resources work best for you.
In the end, it is important to remember that there are many people who are experiencing what you are going through right now. It should be comforting to know that you are not alone, and that there are plenty of people out there willing to be of help.
November 7, 2021 by Jeri K. Augustus