“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”-A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
We know that grief is a form of trauma, and its aftermath can shatter us inside and out. The holidays, in particular, can often bring intense feelings of grief anxiety and keep us stuck repeating unhealthy coping patterns.
Dealing with the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one, rather anticipated or sudden, can be extremely difficult. Sometimes the tides of grief will meet us repeatedly for many years following a loss or a certain memory may spark a deep level of anxiety as impermanence presents a mysterious idea that is hard to fathom.
Grief anxiety is not always acknowledged in the wellness realm and by shying away from conversations surrounding loss and death, it can be counterproductive to our health and wellbeing. Most of us fear the unknown. Uncertainty is omnipresent with grief anxiety and may surround our own mortality or that of losing other loved ones in our life.
Grief impacts everyone differently, yet anxiety is a natural part of the grieving process. We may not know what grief will look like from moment to moment, however, there are steps we can take to transform grief anxiety to inner peace, joy and happiness.
Learning how to compassionately identify, acknowledge and navigate our emotions is key. There is beauty in the essence and miracle of life as we learn to heal ourselves and heal each other. We can move beyond what’s holding us back from living fully and rebuild our lives in a beautiful way even after grief and loss.
Here are a few ways:
Nurture Your Grief Anxiety
Trauma from grief changes the body. It is often associated with both psychological and physiological symptoms that can lead to severe health problems if left unmanaged. Grief anxiety may present symptoms such as: sadness, restlessness, insomnia, chronic pain, lack of memory, focus and concentration, irritability, change in personality, fatigue, heart palpitations, chest pains, sweating, elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
It is important to nurture yourself through daily self-care by getting adequate exercise, yoga, movement, healthy nutrition, adequate sleep and rest to build up the reserves necessary to shift the energy of grief from your chakra centers, organs, tissues and cells.
It may be helpful to schedule a self-care day, limit social media or phone time, limit negative news and negative people, spend time alone, get creative, set clear boundaries, or create a grief wellness plan.
Prioritizing self-care positions you to love yourself better through grief and loss and realigns you to be present with what is. You may have good days, bad days, overwhelming days, too tired days, awesome days, I can’t go on days but every day it’s important that you still show up and nurture yourself in mind, body and soul.
The mind is like an ocean and our grief can move like waves, rising and falling with the tides of each gentle breath. Mindful breathing is a wisdom tool that can teach us how to soothe our hearts and face our grief with grace and compassion; to embrace our emotions one breath at a time instead of fighting or resisting what we are feeling.
With a natural rhythm of inhalation and exhalation the breath is a reminder that the storms of life are not permanent, and the feelings of grief anxiety will come and go. It’s important to feel the pain and let it pass through us. The miracle of the breath can help us do this.
The breath is always with us. It can help us change our relationship to grief and teach us how to better understand our sorrows and suffering, how to react to loss, and how to regulate our emotions as we courageously put the pieces of our life back together again.
We can turn to the breath whenever we wish to come into the present moment and need a space of calm presence. By consciously following the in-breath and out-breath we can ride the waves of grief as our emotions rise and fall.
When painful emotions rise be sure to take care of them right away. Gradually, over time grief anxiety will subside in intensity, and your breathing and heart will become slower and calm down. You will begin to feel lighter and at peace again.
I invite you to put your hand on your belly and feel the movement of your breath.
Become aware of the sensations of the breath and notice if you are breathing shallow or rapidly.
As you focus and connect to the essence of your breath, silently or out loud repeat the following several times: “breathing in, I am safe in my body, breathing out, I smile”.
Name Your Grief Anxiety
Be kind and compassionate to your mind by sitting in meditation and naming your emotions as they arise. Such as “Hello my grief, hello my anxiety , hello my sorrow, I know that you are there I am not running away from you. I will take good care of you”.
Journaling and writing down your feelings can help generate feelings of joy and happiness and create a beautiful landscape to check in on your emotional space.
It may be helpful to repeat to yourself or write down in your journal, “Hello my joy, my peace, my happiness, I know that you are here and I am so happy”.
Return over and over and simply observe your thoughts, emotions, your breath and the sensations in your body as you name your emotions compassionately without ruminating over them.
Accept Your Grief Anxiety
Grief invites us to reawaken our true self and acknowledge the gratefulness of life. Be patient and open to each present moment and allow your healing to unfold naturally in its own timing. Honor your grief anxiety without discounting it. Make peace with your grief anxiety and your current emotional state just as it is without trying to forcefully change it.
A blend of faith, meditation, prayer, and emotional work can help transform feelings of grief anxiety into acceptance by creating a healthier relationship with grief itself. Grief is an energetic power as it speaks unspeakable love and resilience. Filling each waking hour with mindful acceptance reconnects us to Divine comfort and inner resolve.
Hugging our pain and honoring the sacredness in our tears is a part of acceptance while embracing the memories of our dearly departed in our hearts and knowing they are always with us in spirit. Acceptance allows us to let go of guilt, remorse or even regrets of past actions long after a loved one passes away or a relationship ends.
Engaging in community, therapy and/or coaching are strategies that can also help bridge the mind, body and spirit to overcome grief anxiety and/or learn to overcome unhealthy coping behaviors such as denial, substance abuse, violent behavior, isolation, problems accepting the death, bitterness about the loss, chronic sleep disturbances etc...
Sometimes we need medication to cope with grief anxiety and this is okay. Medication does not have to be long term and you are still in control.
The very act of connecting to the deeper parts of our breath, connecting with community and others and compassionately navigating our grief in healthy ways can naturally relax the nervous system and brings us into direct contact with the moment-by-moment process upon which we can transform grief anxiety to a state of calm and peace.
Book a complementary consultation today to learn more about how our 90-Day Restore, Rebalance and Thrive coaching program can help you find relief, comfort, and peace around grief anxiety!
Also, be sure to visit one of our affiiate partners over at Mourning Stones to offer a heartfelt tribute to honor the memory of your loved one. Mourning Stones provides beautifully crafted gemstones with the utmost care and reverence. Their exquisite stones serves as a tangible symbol of remembrance, providing solace and comfort during the difficult journey of grieving. Visit the Mouring Stone website at https://griefhealingstone.com