Loving, Losing, and Learning To Let Go

Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
As someone who is prone to extreme anxiety and muscle tension, it’s no surprise that I have been carrying a great deal of tension in my body since my husband’s passing. Body scan meditations have been incredibly helpful because they allow me to notice where I am holding tension.

Still, I am facing some strong feelings of resistance. Despite the rational part of my brain knowing it is not possible, a big part of my mind is still fighting for my husband to be alive. It is only during body scans that I can feel my resistance in the form of muscle tension and feel a bit of a release as the practice progresses.

After ten months, you would think the letting go would get easier. In a way, I suppose it has. In yet another way, I know I’m not ready to let go at all.

2015-06-06 10.29.48This month, in particular, will be a tough one. My wedding anniversary is coming up in just a couple days. My husband’s birthday is next week. Without him, these celebratory moments become piercing moments of devastation.

It’s strange how confusing it all is, how difficult to know someone is gone and yet to want them back so badly. It defies all logic, and yet it is human nature. We become attached to people and, when we lose them, it’s as if we’ve lost a part of ourselves.

Knowing that letting go is such an important part of the practice is difficult to embrace. But I know I can’t keep hanging on to the desire for my husband to still be alive. It’s not healthy, and it prevents me from living the rest of my own life.

So, I try to move forward in the best way I know how, by meditating and practicing yoga and continuing to notice the ever-evolving stages of grief. Perhaps one day I will truly accept that my husband is gone, but right now–I just need to make it through this month.

Wishing love and bunniness for all, despite my heavy heart.

For more about grieving:

  • Allowing Room for Healing from Grief
  • Running On Om Podcast
  • Resources:

  • Body Scan Meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program
  • Running On Om Podcast

    Just in case you missed the announcement on Facebook last week, I thought I’d post the interview I did with Julia Hanlon for the Running On Om podcast.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or grief, I hope this podcast can provide a little bit of hope. We also talk a lot about the origins of Bunny Buddhism, so if you’re interested in learning more about how Bunny Buddhism came to be, this might answer your questions.

    Please let me know what you think!

    ROO Podcast Image

    ROO Podcast #130: Krista Lester on How Bunnies and Buddhism Saved Her…

    Posted by Running On Om on Friday, May 22, 2015

    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

    In Memoriam: Bellatrix

    Bellatrix and Voldemort on one of their many dates through the fence. Photo courtesy of Callie L.
    Bellatrix and Voldemort on one of their many dates through the fence. Photo courtesy of Callie L.
    From the first day they met Bellatrix, Callie and her husband, Dave, knew she was a special bun. They got her when she was a wee little bun and quickly bonded her to a little blond lop named Voldemort. Bellatrix and Voldemort became fast friends and loved each other dearly.

    For such a little bun, Bellatrix was unusually strong and had an enormous amount of life and spirit. She loved to chase Callie and Dave so she could groom them and give them bunny kisses. And she still had plenty more affection to offer her bunny companion, Voldemort.

    Sadly, Bellatrix developed head tilt and many other medical complications early in life. Callie and Dave did their best to support her with vet trips, syringe feedings, medications, and lots and lots of love. Despite their best efforts, though, Bellatrix passed on when she was only eight months old.

    Callie and Bellatrix. Photo by RogueWolf Photography, used with permission.
    Callie and Bellatrix. Photo by RogueWolf Photography, used with permission.
    Remarkably, Callie found her way through the pain that always accompanies such a loss and was able to find some inspiration. From the experience of caring for Bellatrix, Callie learned to love a special needs bunny, and she knows how many more of them are out there looking for forever homes. She hopes to open her heart and home to another special needs bun at some point soon.

    In the end, Callie says she takes great comfort in knowing Bellatrix is binkying her heart out in the great beyond, free of all the physical limitations that held her back on this earth.

    Well, Callie, I also find your story inspiring. Bellatrix was clearly a master of bunniness with a staggering amount of love to offer. Thank you so much for sharing your story. May you continue to heal from your grief and find ways to help the bunnies who need it most.

    Bellatrix the bunny. Photo by RogueWolf Photography, used with permission.
    Bellatrix the bunny. Photo by RogueWolf Photography, used with permission.

    Looking for more inspiring bunny stories? Try these:

  • Story of Bunniness: Hazel and Fiver
  • Story of Bunniness: Nestor
  • Story of Bunniness: Koucha
  • How to Deal with Intense Emotions in Meditation: 3 Simple Steps

    As many of you know from a previous post, I lost my husband to suicide last August. If you have noticed me being a bit less frequent in my bunny photo posts since then, this is why. I am still very much grieving.

    Photo: Witsanu Keephimai/Shutterstock
    Photo: Witsanu Keephimai/Shutterstock

    Meditation has helped me enormously—I have no doubt—in dealing with this devastating loss. What I find strange, though, is that memories of my husband don’t come up every time I sit. I would think there would be so many emotions and so many memories to sort through that they would come up in every meditation session.

    Why don’t they?

    Today, I think I found my answer. I am now at a point where the emotions aren’t hitting me at every single moment of every day. They hit me when I am over-stressed or over-tired and they hit me when something unexpectedly triggers a specific memory. When I cued up a guided 30-minute body scan meditation today, it unexpectedly triggered a specific memory.

    At one point, the meditation began focusing on the chest and the heart and the lungs and these precious systems that support life. As soon as I thought about these systems, my mind was taken to the hospital, where I had watched for 90 minutes as 20 or more doctors gathered around my husband’s bed in the ICU and tried to restore his pulse and breathing.

    Of course, tears came. I briefly panicked and awaited the full-body sobs. I thought for a moment that the whole meditation process was a wasted effort. But this kind of thing has happened to me so many times now that I have learned how to deal with it. The approach is always the same:

    • Acknowledge the memory and the emotion;
    • Try not to fight it and just let it be;
    • Gently return to the meditation, when you are ready.

    For me, this meant seeing that hospital scene for a moment and reminding myself I was no longer there. The full-body sobs came and went, briefly, as soon as I allowed myself to feel. And then the task became gently turning my thoughts back to my breathing and the guided meditation.

    As I write this, it sounds so easy. It sounds like I expect that every intense emotion can be handled in one sitting with three simple steps. But the fact is, it is not at all easy. It is incredibly difficult. I have been doing this over and over and over again since August. And I only know it is worth the trouble when I reflect on where I used to be.

    When I read that post from September, I realize how far I have come. The fact that intense emotions don’t come up in every sitting is the result of working through the grieving process in the best way I can. I am fortunate to have made some progress.

    To be fair, I think it is also important to note that I have had some fantastic professional help throughout this entire process. I would encourage anyone dealing with intense emotions to find a reputable therapist and to keep looking until you find one you trust. Meditation can help with intense emotions, but sometimes we all need a little more help. And there is absolutely no shame in asking.

    Today’s meditation was one of the guided meditations included in the Insight Timer App. I am a fan of this app and often use it just for the timer and chimes, but today I used Elisha Goldstein’s 30-minute body scan meditation.

    Elisha Goldstein’s 30-minute body scan meditation is also available online at ElishaGoldstein.com.

    Image: Witsanu Keephimai/Shutterstock.