This blog is the seventh part in the series “Demystifying Mindfulness.” I’m hoping I can help us all understand a little bit more about the practice of mindfulness, how it can be helpful and how we can integrate it into our lives.
Finn and me on the beach.
Grief is our response to loss. Contrary to popular culture beliefs, a loss isn’t something we “get over.” We don’t move fluidly through five steps to a goal of acceptance of the loss. Some losses are unacceptable. How we cope with loss is our own-we each do it differently.
As part of my mindfulness journey, I’ve tried meditation to help me cope with my own feelings of grief after the loss of my dog Finn last August. This was a very traumatic, sudden, unexpected loss for me. I’ve struggled mightily for the last 354 days to adapt to life without him. Some days are great. Many are not. I feel so many different things about his loss—guilt, remorse, pain, sadness, blame, anger, yearning. But I also want so badly to honor him, our relationship, what he meant to me, his work as a therapy dog and the lives he touched in this work. And I want to be able to love again—to feel the way about my other dogs, Maggie, Linus and Huckleberry Finn (yes, I named him to honor Finn—this was probably the best thing I’ve done in my grieving) that I do about Finn.
I’ve tried several different guided meditations focused on coping with grief over the past several weeks. I want to caution users that this is not a meditation that should be taken lightly. You will experience “all the feels” when participating in these sessions. I sobbed uncontrollably through much of them. This felt raw and vulnerable. I’m not much of a crier. Perhaps this gave me the permission to be one?
I’ve also learned to try to forgive myself, to stop blaming myself, to understand that I’m “doing the best that I can” with all of this—and most days, that is all the matters. When coping with loss, you don’t have to be anything, to anyone, at anytime in relation to YOUR loss.
As I approach the anniversary of Finn’s death, my heart still aches. But I feel like I have some new tools in my toolbox to help me cope with the flood of emotion and to adapt to live without his physical presence, but still very much with his memory and his legacy as part of mine.
If you are coping with grief after a loss, you may want to try some guided, grief focused meditations as part of your own process. There are grief focused meditations in most of the apps I reviewed here. Learn more about Finn’s work as a therapy dog here.
Christina is a clinical oncology social worker who joined the OncoLink team in 2014. Christina blogs about resources available to the cancer community, as well as general information about coping with cancer practically, emotionally, and spiritually. Christina is an avid knitter and spends a great deal of time posting pictures and stories about her three beagles, Linus, Maggie and Huckleberry. She also loves to travel, cook and is an avid Philly sports fan.