Allowing Room for Healing from Grief

Today is the first day since my husband’s suicide that I experienced the witness in my meditation. For the past eight months, I have experienced only an ongoing struggle with anger, tears, and racing thoughts that were intractable to say the least.

Photo: Tonny de Lasson/Shutterstock
Photo: Tonny de Lasson/Shutterstock
If I were an enlightened being whose practice had taken me to a level where I no longer held any attachments, perhaps it would have taken less time to reach this stage. But I am not an enlightened being. I am an ordinary person dealing with ordinary life and grieving the loss of someone I loved in the best way I know how.

To this point, I have tried mostly to be compassionate with myself and to allow room for the grieving process. This meant letting some overwhelming feelings exist in their extreme form for a while. The best I could do was refrain from feeding any additional energy into them.

At long last, the extreme feelings have settled into more manageable moments of thought. Now, when thoughts arise about incredibly painful aspects of my husband’s death, I can breathe with the pain and let go of the storyline. I feel myself becoming closer to forgiveness for both him and myself, though I know it will still take time.

While I’m not sure today’s experience is quite cause for celebration, I would say I think it is a sign of healing. I know the experience of losing my husband will color the rest of my life, but it doesn’t have to dictate the rest of my life. I will take this small sign of health as a signal that I am heading in the right direction and as motivation to keep on hopping.

For more about grieving:

  • Grieving Mindfully with Mindfulness Mutt
  • How to Deal with Intense Emotions in Meditation: 3 Simple Steps
  • Recommended Reading:

    “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
    – Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

    Moment of Bunniness: Brownie

    Thank you to Theresa L. for capturing this pic of her lovely little Brownie in a quiet moment of bunniness. This pic is a great reminder that we can’t keep going all the time. Sometimes we need to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and experience the healing power of silence.

    Brownie the bunny, Photo courtesy of Theresa L.
    Brownie the bunny, Photo courtesy of Theresa L.

    Need more bunniness? Try these:

  • Moment of Bunniness: Keiko
  • Moment of Bunniness: Eva
  • Moment of Bunniness: Kaku
  • Grieving Mindfully with Mindfulness Mutt

    Despite having my key with me, I got locked out of my house this morning when I went to walk the dog. I’ve come to accept that life comes with its minor frustrations, but this minor frustration became one of those huge “I can’t believe this is happening to me” ordeals, especially since I have a history of horrible Good Fridays.

    Immediately, I recognized my thoughts trying to run away with me. I reminded myself to breathe with my frustration, and for a moment I thought I did a pretty good job of letting it go.

    Thankful that I’d had the forethought to bring my phone on my walk, I googled 24-hour locksmiths and saw an ad that said, “15 minute response 24/7.” When I called, the man said a tech would call me back. When the tech called, he said he would arrive in 30 minutes.

    Fortunately, I live near a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts and I did have my keys with me, after all, so I hopped in the car with my dog. She got wet paw prints all over the seats because it had rained overnight, but I recognized my irritation and reminded myself that wet paw prints do eventually dry.

    I was determined to make the most out of my predicament.

    Coffee in hand, I drove back home to sit on the stoop and enjoy my morning beverage while I waited for the locksmith. 30 minutes later, he called to say he was going to be 10 minutes late. My own patience wearing thin, I tried to see the situation through my dog’s eyes.

    For those of you who like dogs as well as bunnies, please allow me to introduce my dog, Salem (a.k.a. Mindfulness Mutt).

    When the tech finally arrived, I told him I had my key and it just wouldn’t turn. He told me it would cost $325 for him to drill out the lock and let me in. Once he drilled the lock, he told me it would cost another $125 plus labor to replace the doorknob.

    Convinced he was ripping me off, I politely told him to go ahead and do it. He left to get the new lock from his car. And I broke down in tears, very much aware of the fact that the problem never would have occurred if my husband were still alive.

    It is unexpected moments like these that make me miss my husband even more. As much as I try to work with the painful emotions and allow myself to grieve, there are times when it just hits me hard and it feels like it’s never going to get better.

    Then, I am reminded of one of my husband’s favorite quotes, part of the last sentence from Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable:

    “…you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

    So, with love, memories, mindfulness–and the knowledge that my pain teaches me more with every tear–I go on.

    Oh, and tears saved me money today, too. When the locksmith heard me crying, he knocked $230 off the price. In a way, I guess my husband is still rescuing me from the problems I sometimes create for myself.

    Looking for the moral of today’s story? Don’t hang bags full of books on your doorknobs. Evidently, the key is not strong enough to turn the lock when there is too much weight on the other side of the door.

    2015-03-30 11.58.25

    Moment of Bunniness: Keiko

    Today’s moment of bunniness comes to us from Brianne G. and her angel bun, Keiko. Keiko’s pic is perfect to go along with a Bunny Buddhism quote that is very near and dear to my heart right now. It is a dark time in my life, no doubt, and I have to keep reminding myself not to sit and wallow in the darkness. I am still alive, with many beautiful moments of light to come, as long as I am willing to watch for them. Thanks, Keiko, for the reminder–I definitely needed it!

    Keiko the bunny, Photo courtesy of Brianne G.
    Keiko the bunny, Photo courtesy of Brianne G.

    Need more bunniness? Try these:

  • Moment of Bunniness: Eva
  • Moment of Bunniness: Kaku
  • Moment of Bunniness: Luna