Healing from Grief: Four Ways to Find PeaceFeb 26, 2021 08:30AM ● By Jasmin Jenkins
When I was 13, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At 15, I was at her graveside, navigating my first experience with the other side of love: loss. Ten years later, my beloved and only brother died tragically as a result of PTSD and untreated addiction. In a word: suicide. Where my mom’s death silenced me, my brother’s death pushed me into a deep pursuit of healing.
In the nine years since then, I have committed to discovering the light side of grief, to identifying and embracing the invitations that lay within its deep layers. What I’ve come to learn is that grieving is actually a renewal state—a cycle of releasing and reconnecting. The tears and sadness are, quite literally, just a more fluid connection to love. These are the four invitations I’ve found within the grief:
1. The invitation to pause
When someone we love dies, our whole world changes in an instant and forever. And with this disruption, there is an opportunity for sacred inquiry that arrives as we pause and honor the absence of our loved one: the impressions they made on our lives, what we will miss about them, how we will continue to celebrate their lives and what their story taught us.
2. The invitation to connect with our breath
With the intensity of emotions surrounding loss, breath can serve as our anchor. Simply remembering to close our eyes and breathe allows us to stay grounded in our body, mind and spirit. In the TED talk “Breathe to Heal,” Max Strom explains how certain patterns of breathing can actually change how we feel.
3. The invitation to feel
Elizabeth Kübler–Ross taught us about the five stages of grief, but since everyone’s story and process is so unique, there is ultimately no linear order of the stages. If an emotion arises, allow for it. Feelings, after all, are just information about the state of our heart. The more we can give ourselves permission to be with where we are in our grief, the more at peace we will be in our process.
4. The invitation to heal
Healing is a verb requiring action and commitment. We have to allow for the pain to heal, also remembering that in doing so, we must keep our hearts open. We have to ask for help when healing, because most of us can’t heal in isolation. Therapists who specialize in grief, online grief courses, bodywork and support groups can help us move forward.
Zen Buddhism reminds us that the obstacle is the path. By exploring these invitations, we arrive at the truth that grief is actually a sacred pathway into a deeper connection within our hearts.
Jasmin Jenkins is a Los Angeles-based integrative grief guide and the founder of Fall Up, which supports people navigating the spectrum of grief.