I often talk about the art of letting go and it’s something I whole-heartedly believe is the key to future abundance. Though, I have yet to touch on the topic of letting go through grief.
“Life can be both painful and exquisite.”
It’s through the pain that our hearts and minds are open to see the beauty that exists all around us each day.
Losing someone is felt deep in our hearts. It’s sometimes an ache so deep it’s hard to define but it can also bring us to a remarkable place of awakening; a presence so profound that you feel gratitude for every living thing, each step you make and each breath you take. A true understanding of human life and a connection to all that is greater than us.
I recently lost my best friend Victor of 20 years to a sudden heart attack at the age of 42. As you can imagine it was quite jolting. I remember feeling like everything was moving in slow motion. I woke up to read a message from his mother on my phone the morning after he passed. I had just spoken to him the night before.
“I’m not sure you know but my son passed away last night. I know he loved you very much.” I instantly dropped my phone, fell to my knees and yelled “Noooooooooooo!”. The longest, loudest NO I have ever exclaimed. It was filled with anger and sadness. A grasping for what I had known before. A life filled with shared laughter and love. I was now left with only the memories imprinted on my heart.
The second thing I did was call his phone to hear his voice one more time. I was crying so much those first few days I looked 5lbs heavier in the face. I felt like I was walking in mud wearing lead boots.
Victor was very much a soul mate in this lifetime and this was one of the hardest losses of my life so far.
My only saving grace was my knowledge on how to properly move through grief. I knew what I had to do and began my healing journey.
Three weeks into that healing process I was faced with yet another loss that hit me hard.
My 15 year old maltese Chloe was ready for her transition onto the next realm and left this earthly life.
I was fortunate to have so many beautiful years with this special soul. She was absolutely one of my comfort tools during times like this and now she was no longer here to help soothe my aching heart.
My healing journey just got a little tougher but I knew that the healing process for losing her was no different than any other loss. I engaged in the same healing tools and began the process of mending my wounded heart.
I’m no stranger to grief. I’ve lost 7 loved ones in the last 11 years that all held a special place in my heart.
The first was my ex fiancé who suffered from depression and ended his life to escape his pain. This was the first really hard loss for me and honestly, I didn’t handle it well at all.
I did all the wrong things. I dove into a bottle of wine like it was a magic potion to wash it all away. Of course it did nothing but prolong my grieving process by blocking the necessary emotions I needed to feel and move through in order to heal.
If I knew then what I know now I would have saved myself years of heartache.
Just five years later my brother was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and was given 3-7 months to live. He was 10 years older than me and the most amazing big brother anyone could ask for. Always there for me in times of need and a voice of tough love when needed.
Our lives were turned upside down in an instant but this is where I learned how to move through grief in a healthy and productive way. I had given up drinking four years prior so repeating my old ways of grieving were a thing of the past.
Escapism never works. It only prolongs the process and even worse damages the relationships that still exist in your life.
Losing my brother on this earthly plain gave me a fresh perspective. It was like seeing life through new eyes. Everything mattered and nothing mattered all at once. It was a feeling I hadn’t known before now. A presence that can only be felt when we are truly awake in that moment.
This is where my mindfulness journey began.
One year later my childhood best friend since the age of 7 – Kelley – passed away from terminal cancer.
She fought a long battle and I was there along the way as much as I could be to support her in her time of need. She was the kindest, most gentle soul I have ever known. Even after her death her soul nurtures mine. A blessing to all people that were touched by her, she left a powerful stamp of love on each and every person she encountered.
Watching her move through her illness provided me with much needed strength. I think of her so often and how she gracefully handled her diagnosis. She was a warrior to the end, never giving up or loosing hope all in an effort to help her children and loved ones deal with the heaviness of her impending passing.
Peter & Rita
Three years later, I was hit by another loss of my friend Peter and a month later another loss of my friend Rita.
These two people were clients that played a pivotal role in my business development, but they also became two of my closest friends and confidants.
Ten years of friendship with both of these people and suddenly they were both gone. Poof. Just like that. Both were very sudden losses and a grieving process that took me down the road of comtemplating my life, my business and how I wanted to live.
I was given the gift of speaking to Rita one last time a week before she died. Her last words of wisdom to me were “Diana, this is why I always tell you to just have fun.” Rita spent many years as a teacher before moving into real estate and I cant thank her enough for this last lesson on life. One that I live by each day.
At this point I had the tools to help me move through the grief but I was unaware of the pain body triggers and how hers and Peter’s deaths reactivated the sadness I felt from losing Bart and Larry.
Our bodies hold onto the trauma in our lives and without proper processing, this can lead to illness and the inability to move forward.
Trapped emotions drain our energy, create imbalances. and lead to disease.
A healthy process for grief can help you avoid holding onto the heavy emotions you are feeling and bring your mind, body and spirit back into balance.
I was on a mission to heal my heart from the pain of these loses and dove into everything I knew about that would help me along my journey.
I’ll start by saying that grief is not a one size fits all. The way in which we experience grief, the timing of our grief and how we heal are different for each person.
The unpredictability of grief is the most interesting phenomenon to me and without these tools I wouldn’t have had the strength to move through it all.
Grief loves to sneak up on us. While we’re in line at the grocery store, on our way to a meeting, in a meeting. No matter who you are, you will undoubtedly experience the waves of grief at the most inopportune times. Being as prepared as you can be to move through those moments is what keeps you on a healthy track for healing.
Self Care for Grief
All throughout my brother’s illness I indulged in self-care.
It may seem like a selfish thing to some to go get a massage while your brother lays in the hospital, but it was a necessary tool to help rid my body of the stress toxins running through my lymphatic system. I’ve been receiving massage on a monthly basis for 20 years and it has helped me tremendously in many ways. When it comes to grief, it’s one of the essential tools I use to help me move forward. Massage breaks down the build up of toxins and allows your body to relax in order to better process the grief and sadness. When you cry your body tenses up so releasing those muscles and keeping the body relaxed is essential in rebuilding your strength.
Let’s talk about crying…
For some people this is a hard thing to do or something hard to embrace. So many of us put forth effort not to cry and it’s exactly the opposite of what we need and should be doing.
If you have an urge to cry by all means DO IT! Our bodies know exactly what we need so listen to your body and allow it to magically heal itself.
Not only do our bodies naturally tense up when we cry, our tears are filled with oxytocin and endogenous opioids (endorphins). These feel good chemicals help ease physical and emotional pain.
Our bodies are sophisticated machines that are designed to handle anything that life brings our way.
Crying is a natural way for your body to heal and release the chemicals needed to shift your mood and lift the pain.
No one should ever feel ashamed of crying. If you allow yourself to cry and you’re in public it’s ok. You might just find a kind stranger who understands and offers you words of encouragement or a simple smile to let you know you’re thought of lovingly. If you would rather have that ugly cry alone try crying in the shower. It’s a great place to cleanse and there’s privacy from others in the home.
As you’re moving through the loss one thing that can be helpful is to visualize your loved one doing what makes them happiest.
For Victor, he was always dancing. When I envision him, he’s dancing with his beautiful smile on his face.
I’m not thinking about the darker, sadder moments he shared with me but rather the beautiful loving and happy force of life he was.
We so often take ourselves to a painful memory. Thinking about the pain that person was in or ruminating on how it could have been different.
What we need to do is embrace what is. As difficult as it may be, it is what it is meant to be. That person had a soul journey they were here to live and the natural timing of that journey is not for us to determine or understand. We simply need to know that it’s part of a much larger plan.
Try to embrace the miracle that you were brought together in this lifetime and move forward knowing that their love will always live on through you.
Letting go when it comes to grief simply means letting go on the earth plain because Love is infinite. Living on in our hearts and consciousness forever.
Eating for Grief
Eating for grief can be a tricky one but it’s one I have paid close attention to over the years.
Food serves as a wonderful tool to help during this time and when done properly can help to raise our vibration helping to lift your mood and ability to cope.
One of the first things that happened to me after Victor passed was quite fascinating. I spoke to a spiritual medium that explained to me this was not unusual and was spirits way of moving through me. For the first week after his passing I was craving EVERYTHING he liked. I ate a menu designed by Victor himself and I promise you I had little or nothing to do with these selections. Eating these foods made me feel a connection to him. It was so soothing and comforting it was like he was right there with me.
Similarly, when my brother passed I went from eating bananas every day to not liking bananas at all.
In fact I didn’t eat bananas for 2 years!! I loved bananas but my brother was allergic and never ate them. We talked about it during his illness and I remember telling him I couldn’t imagine life without them.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on my sudden change until I spoke to the medium that helped me make sense of this.
Aside from eating the foods we know our loved ones liked to feel that connection, we should always be thinking about our health.
Grief increases inflammation and affects our immune system leaving us feeling depleted and vulnerable to illness.
A well balanced diet of fruits, veggies and lean protein along with loads of water is the recipe needed for healthy grieving. Higher vibrating foods can lift our moods and give us the much needed energy to move through this challenging time.
If you’re having a difficult time because of lack of appetite, I recommend starting your day with a protein smoothie. Getting in the vitamins you need and helping start the engine to your appetite will help you move through the emotional ride you’re on.
It’s important to note that just like any other tragic event, grief can trigger negative eating patterns or worsen a disorder already in place. If this is the case please seek professional help. There are specific guidelines on this that I’m not qualified to give but I do take this very seriously.
Don’t Grieve Alone
Moving through grief should not be a solo mission.
No one can move through grief alone. At least not well. Please reach out to family and friends during this time without any fear.
Be willing to be vulnerable to the ones you love and open your heart to heal. Sharing stories of happy times and talking about them helps so much and it keeps their memory alive. It’s all a natural part of the grieving process and as humans we were designed to help one another.
If you don’t have a close personal network that can help there are support groups and counselors out there that can. Connecting with others is a vital piece to the healing journey.
Meditation for Grief
I meditate daily but each time I lose someone I make it my mission to meditate in honor of them.
I start the meditation with a gratitude prayer specifically for them and then dedicate my 10 minute practice to them and the love we share. I typically do this for the first week and taper off as I feel the timing to do so. If you don’t already meditate I highly recommend incorporating this into your daily routine. The benefits are astounding on so many levels but it’s especially helpful during a time of loss.
My most recent addition to the grieving process and letting go is to engage in some heart openers.
Yoga for Grief
Even if you don’t already practice yoga you can benefit a great deal from some simple poses that are designed specifically to open your heart. Any of these can be found online. Puppy pose, Floor bow, camel and dancers pose are all excellent choices to try.
Another good one is any pose designed to open the hips. Did you know we carry all of our emotions in our hips? Opening your hips releases the emotional blocks and helps in the healing process. I simply can’t get enough pigeon pose. I can almost instantly feel the release.
If you don’t practice yoga, engage in some form of physical activity to release the much needed endorphins gained from exercise.
One of the first things that I do when someone I love transitions is to set up an alter for them. I find a picture of them and collect a few things to surround them with including a candle. Each day when I wake up I light the candle and give thanks, talk to them or whatever makes me feel better in that moment.
My personal belief is that we are still very much connected to our loved ones and can connect with them easily in this first week after passing.
If you have residual emotions, unsettled business of any kind, and you need to clear your conscious this is a great time to do it.
The one thing to remember is that anything that happened here on earth is left here when we transition. Our earthy worries and relationship dynamics are left here on earth and what’s left is the eternal love felt in that time together.
No need to go on in your mind about the “what if’s”. Every transition is meant to happen when and how it happens. As tough as that is to hear we must grasp the concept that everything unfolds the way it’s meant to.
My final recommendation is something I came upon after my brother passed and it’s the most amazing tool to heal from any trauma.
The Ho’oponopono prayer which means “to set right”. This powerful Hawaiian prayer was used to heal an entire hospital of criminally insane patients and quickly became used world wide to heal people from trauma. I’m currently using it as I still move through the losses of Victor and Chloe just four months ago. I listen every night before I fall asleep as it eases me into a good night’s rest.
So as a recap, here are my ten tips for grieving and letting go:
- Self care (long hot baths, massages etc)
- Don’t grieve alone – reach out to family, friends or support groups
- Yoga for hip openers and heart openers
- Eat well – high vibrating foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Set up and alter of your loved one
- Seek professional help if needed
- Ho Oponopono prayer
As you move on in your journey of healing be sure to be kind to yourself.
Hug yourself (if you’ve never done this you should) and pamper yourself to a place of wellness.
Self care and self love are needed now more than ever.
If you need someone to talk to please email me. I’m always happy to help.
Love and Light,