*I'm using this piece of writing as a personal reflection on my current experiences. *
Today I want to talk about grief. To begin, let's start out with some definitions.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines grief as:
deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement; a cause of such suffering; trouble or annoyance
Dictionary.com defines grief as:
keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret
Finally, let's look at the definition from MedicineNet.com:
The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair. Physical reactions of grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness.
Now, let's analyze these conversations. Grief can be experienced in various ways by each individual. You may be more comfortable with one of those definitions than the other. That's okay. That is what I would like to bring up today, that grief is different for everybody and can come from a variety of causes. No matter what the situation was to cause the grief, each human reacts in their own unique way to handle this.
And that is okay.
After a very hard beginning to our year of 2020, my boyfriend and I lost his father to lung cancer. This was devastating. My heart broke into a million pieces. To see the person I love in so much pain did not make sense to me. It was not fair. I did not understand. I still don't. Why do we have to lose the people we love?
As we tried to go on with our normal lives after missing weeks of school, this pandemic began to take its toll. Another reason to grieve. Our first 4 year Bachelor programs have come to a sudden halt. No more seeing friends everyday. No more work. No more social interaction.
We are currently finishing our 4th week of isolation here in Burnaby and all I can say is that I feel okay. I feel very happy some days while others are tough. I know I am grieving. I see is through my sleeping patterns, energy levels and mood swings.
I think people assume you can only grieve after a death but that is not the case. We can all grieve ANY distress or loss. You can't figure out why you are feeling so odd lately? Maybe you are grieving what you have loss.
It's okay to be sad. It's okay to feel loss. It's okay to be confused.
What we can't do now is ignore these feelings.
We must acknowledge them.
We as a society must understand that hiding our emotions only causes more emotional distress in the future.
Many psychologists and scholars place grief into 5 or 6 stages. This is a normal, scientific way of categorizing our feelings. They are:
I like to think you can be in multiple stages at once. You can feel many different things throughout this process. This long, confusing experience can last anywhere from days, to months, to years... and that is okay.
The point I am trying to get at is...
GRIEVING IS NORMAL AND WE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHEN IT IS HAPPENING.
Continually throughout my life, I have seen family and friends pushing their emotions away, putting them to the back of their mind. Unfortunately, this only causes more issues in the future because of so many built up feelings.
If you are feeling anything similar to how I am lately, I wanted to create an exercise for us to help heal ourselves. Here we go.
SELF-HELP/GRIEF MEDITATION EXERCISE:
TAKE TEN MINUTES TO YOURSELF. Strictly just you, nobody else. Find somewhere you feel comfortable and safe.
SLOW DOWN YOUR BREATHING. Inhaling through the nose to a count of 4, pausing, then exhaling through your mouth to a count of 4.
NOTICE YOUR THOUGHTS. As we sit with ourselves here you may notice many thoughts and feelings arise. This is normal and one of the most difficult parts of meditation. Acknowledge each thought, each feeling, and say thank you to your body. Thank yourself for being able to feel, for being able to be human.
IMAGINE EACH THOUGHT AS A CLOUD IN THE SKY. You see it, you notice it and then you watch it float on. It may come back, repeat it floating away as necessary. Do not dwell on one certain cloud.
NOTICE HOW YOU FEEL. Are you anxious? Nervous? Calm? Stay real to yourself. This may bring up feelings that are difficult to live with. That is okay.
REMIND YOURSELF OF THE PROCESS. You are living in a time of confusion, stress and anxiety. Remind yourself it is OKAY to feel whatever you are feeling.
BREATHE. Continue this meditation as long as needed. Give yourself time and opportunity to reflect on your experience.
REFLECTION. Write down how you felt. Write down anything that came up that you feel is important to acknowledge.
REPEAT. Try doing this exercise once a day. It can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. This is how we heal.
The more I see society pushing their feelings away, the more I realize we need to self medicate with meditation. A simple process we can start including into our daily routines. Research shows as little as 2-3 minutes of daily meditation can have a benefit to our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. I encourage you to try it!
If meditation is not for you, that is okay. I ask you to practice deep breathing still. This respiratory practice has the ability to slow down our thoughts and lower stress levels. You could try the 5-6-8 breath. Inhale for a count of 5, pause for a count of 6 and exhale to a count of 8.
Thank you for tuning in everyone.
This is how we flourish.