Grieving is such an effective and psychologically necessary means to process the loss of a loved one. Loss of a piece of ourselves.
Real joy isn’t possible until we have taken the plunge into the depths of our own shadow, or the disowned aspects of ourselves. Only through exploring and marrying various aspects of our “Selfs” in the cradle of sorrow can we truly find hope and joy again. All of our emotions should be honored, whether they make you feel elated or sad.
Sadness is just another note that enhances the symphony of our emotional spectrum, and reminds us of the beauty of being human.
Therefore, it’s crucial that we honor our need to mourn. To find a regular ritual, or a tangible expression for our grief.
When I speak of “rituals,” I’m not referring to the ceremonies you engage in under the light of a full moon with animal bone sacrifices by a bonfire. We all have daily rituals. Whether it’s grabbing your Venti Hazelnut Skinny Latte before work, or skimming the newspaper at breakfast, or preparing a PB&J sandwich for your kids.
Here are 7 powerful rituals that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you heal faster during grief:
Crying can be one of the most cathartic rituals of grieving. It’s not only a positive, but a necessary act of releasing, and shedding old layers of yourself that no longer serve you.
Whether we are grieving the loss of a parent, a spouse, a child, a relationship, a job, or something that holds deep sentimental value in our hearts.
By actively engaging in the act of crying, we are consciously and symbolically letting go of this person or thing. We can offer thanks to the way it has served us in the past, or the lesson(s) this person or situation has taught us.
By being grounded in our body and in the present moment, we can then be more attuned to the subtle feelings we’ve buried within. That is why it’s important for us to practice mindfulness and self-awareness in our daily lives. I talk about the importance of these two things in #7.
The moment you feel the urge to cry, just breathe into it. Support that urge to organically push those emotions to the surface. Hold the pain with the same gentleness and firmness as you would a crying infant, without any judgment. Fully feel the feels. Allow the tears to naturally flow out of you. Then once you’re ready, release the feelings and thank them for making you feel alive and fully human.
But of course, everybody processes loss in their own way. Not all of us grieve by shedding tears. There is nothing wrong with you even if everyone else was crying at the funeral, and you weren’t. Tears might not come. Crying may not be the way your body chooses to grieve at this time. It’s okay. Just don’t suppress the urge to cry when it does arise.
There are other effective ways to process our psychological and emotional states during times of monumental loss.
2. TALKING ABOUT IT
One of the other rituals that helped me tremendously shortly after the death of my fiancé was confiding in trusted friends and family members. Or really, anyone who would listen at the time. Having a loving support group also made a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you need a shoulder to lean on.
The mere act of verbalizing your thoughts about your loss is another powerful way to process your pain.
Don’t be afraid to speak about him or her any time you feel the urge to.
Finding an expression for your grief is a vital step towards healing from it.
Journaling is also another cathartic ritual to facilitate our healing process.
Remember, you’re not on a mission to meet a deadline, and you are certainly not writing for someone else.
You are writing for you.
Forced writing is never as therapeutic as responding to your natural urge to write.
That is why I highly suggest free-flowing while you write. That way you won’t have to worry about syntax, grammar, or spelling. Just let the words organically flow from your hand onto paper (or the computer screen).
As you write, visualize the pain flowing from your heart to your hands, and onto paper as they solidify into words.
Grieving is a natural and healthy way of processing our emotions after experiencing such a traumatic life event. We should actively encourage the act of grieving, in ourselves and in others, without judgment. Learn to channel that grief into creative, and practical endeavors. Writing is a powerful form of emotional expression and processing.
However, journaling is merely one of the many powerful ways to process our emotions.
4. SPENDING TIME IN NATURE (aka. EARTHING)
Try to spend at least an hour a day in nature. Or even better, practice “earthing,” which is to walk barefooted on the grass. On an energetic level, earthing helps us reconnect to the womb from which we came. It not only grounds us in the here and now, but also exchanges our dark clouds for sunshine. Earthing, or walking barefooted on grass has been an integral factor to my healing process.
You might be thinking: I don’t have time, or I don’t have the energy to go anywhere. Initially, spending even a mere 30 minutes in nature maybe 3-4 days a week is all you need. You will gradually want to spend more time in nature once you notice the positive effects it has on your healing process.
Trees are designed by Mother Nature to absorb the toxic energy our bodies emit (i.e. carbon dioxide). In turn, nature releases back to us disease-fighting essences in the air. Mountains, forests, grasslands, and beaches are naturally high in negative ions, which naturally eliminates depression and restores balance and vitality to our bodies.
Not only does nature help purify our physical body, but it also helps clear our minds from excessive thoughts that eat up the bulk of our vital energy, which in many cases, is the main cause of our suffering.
Especially during bereavement, when our mind replays memories with our loved ones, like a broken record that just won’t stop.
Many great sages and mystics contribute the preservation of their health and mental sanity to spending time amongst the woods, mountains, the park, or beaches.
David Thoreau wrote, “I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
Of course, not all of us can afford at least four hours a day sauntering in the woods.
There are many easy ways to reap healing benefits from nature – you could practice mindful walking (barefooted, or not). Deep breathing, jogging. or simply sitting on a bench and bringing your attention to the present moment. Do yoga on the grass, smell the flowers, hug a tree (seriously), listen to the birds sing, observe how the trees sway in the wind.
5. MOVING YOUR BODY
If your work already involves a certain amount of physical activity, that doesn’t count. Moving your body for therapeutic purposes is very different from stress-filled activities that we are required to engage in on a daily basis.
I’m referring to moving your body for tension release and pure enjoyment, in a safe and private space. Examples are ecstatic dancing, jogging, yoga, cycling, drumming, boxing, yelling, screaming. Or simply move in any way that feels the most intuitive for you.
The more you consciously engage in physical movement for the purpose of pure self-enjoyment, the easier it is for your body to dispel trapped, unprocessed emotions.
The one activity you should stay away from at this time though, is sex. Regardless of what some might think, this is not an ideal time for you to engage in sexual activity with anyone. There are many reasons why – I go in depth about it here.
6. LISTENING TO HEALING MUSIC
Although if you are experiencing the initial stages of grief, you may be too lethargic to want to move. In that case, don’t force yourself until you are ready. In the meantime, try listening to some nature sounds or solfeggio frequencies. Solfeggio frequencies are healing sounds that help restore our vibrational balance. It’s an easy and effortless healing modality to incorporate into your daily routine.
The 528 Hz is known as the frequency of love, particular to healing and balancing your heart chakra, which is essential during times of loss. I used to listen to the 528 Hz every night while sleeping. And I can say, it did its job.
7. MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
The simplest way for anyone to practice mindfulness meditation is: to focus on doing one thing at a time. Focus on fully being absorbed in this task regardless of what you are doing. Or simply practice “being” in the present moment, instead of “doing”. This ritual allows us to get back in touch with our body, our inner world.
Mindfulness meditation grounds us back into our body, back into the present moment. It also forces us to engage our five senses, which gradually increases our alertness overtime.
By practicing mindfulness meditation, we are making space in our body and mind to allow any unprocessed grief to come into the light.
This particular ritual allows us to observe our thoughts and emotions from a detached manner. It’s important to remind ourselves that we are not our emotions. And we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts and emotions are only tiny facets in the composition of our entire being. Only in rediscovering our true authentic self by going inward can we truly find peace.
To practice mindfulness meditation: turn your attention towards your breath. Be mindful of your breathing. Notice how your lung expands as you breathe in, and how it contracts as you breathe out. Eyes open or closed is up to you.
Try to maintain your breath for 4 seconds while breathing in. Holding the air in your lungs for a couple of seconds. And another 4 for breathing out.
During meditation, you might feel the urge to cry at times. This is a perfect opportunity to let those tears flow to the surface. Don’t hold back.
Even if you’re only able to practice this ritual for 5 minutes daily, you are already one step closer to healing.
The more you practice bringing attention within, the easier it would be for peace to naturally, and effortless arise. The relentless thoughts and emotions that haunt your mind will slowly dissolve.
So, whether it’s journaling, crying, verbal expression, spending time in nature, moving your body in ways that purifies and excites you. Or being in a meditative state and carrying that energy with you into your day-to-day activities by practicing mindfulness. Incorporating even just one of these cathartic rituals into your daily routine will help accelerate your healing process. You will discover the arising of a sense of profound peace.
But we all grieve in our own way. There isn’t one method that is better than another. You can choose to incorporate these rituals into your daily routine, or not. These are merely suggestions that has worked for me.
Was there a particular ritual that has helped you overcome some of the toughest times during grief? Feel free to share it with other fellow widows and widowers in the comment section below.