The Need to be Present to What Grief Teaches
1. Recognize the benefits of being in the present moment
2. Start to look at your life from this perspective
3. Steps to move forward with your own life
Reconnecting from Grief
I had written this piece recently, and couldn’t help reflecting on what I was advising my readers to do, be in the present moment. Sometimes you advise others to do the very thing you need to do. I paid attention to this thought and as I went out on my morning run, I decided to pay attention to only my run. Oh, how the mind objects to these exercises. I was partially successful, here is a summary.
Being Present Summary
As I ran, I became aware of the cooler breeze on my face, then I noticed the warmth of the sun on my back. Delicious I thought, I had missed that warmth. I spent a few moments being present to these two sensations and could feel joy coming up and then a smile. How simple, pay attention and I brought myself joy and it didn’t cost a penny. I became aware of the steeper gradient as I continued.
Funny, I had always felt the road to be mainly flat, alas now with my new awareness and focus I could see the road steadily rising up and up until it reached the top and straightened out. No wonder I found that stretch somewhat tougher than the rest.
Next, my attention was drawn to nature and how beautiful the wildflowers looked despite the lateness of the year. Everything at the side of the road was in full bloom, the colours still vibrant. How many times had I run right past all this, my mind deep in thought? I continued to practise being in the moment as I ran. The result is a clearer mind. I felt relaxed and enjoyed the bubbling joy I still could feel. I had noticed my world again and it had rewarded me.
Moving Through the Pain and Chaos
Now back to the point I wanted to make. Once I had moved through the pain and chaos of that initial grief, I recognized that the pain could continue if I allowed myself to remain in the past or if I moved forward into a future without Dad. These were only thoughts, not steeped in any reality. It was his death that brought my life to a halt, I became dissatisfied with the status quo and was determined to find a way out.
Grief is such an inward process that it becomes easy to detach from your life. Our lives continue but we are not fully present to them. After a while life can fall into shades of grey and nothing seems important anymore. Grief describes the emotions that are felt during the loss of a loved one. Mourning is actually what we are doing. We are mourning the connection to that person and our familiar way of life. There is a hole, we feel empty so we set out in our need to fill it. This can be done by overeating, drinking or any other distraction such as throwing yourself into your work or home. This is our attempt not to feel our emotions but what is required is for us to process them for they can help us let go of any unfinished business with that person. We can allow our space to become filled with love for them and ourselves as a result.
Self-love is where you become present in your life and set about rebuilding it. Letting go of anything that is no longer working in your life. Death can bring you to thoughts of your immortality and to those things you still want to do with your life. It can be a total overhaul, changes in career or leave fulfilling relationships or even a move to another city. A less extreme way is we can become peaceful and accept our lives are now different but welcome the newness that is waiting to come in.
When I became tired of dealing with grief in the ways I have outlined above, I sought the support of a coach. It was working with her that certainly helped me re-evaluate my life. The evaluation leads me to review my life in all areas. I then worked with her to bring each one into balance. The most important one I wanted to work with was my career. I needed to create a job experience that would be more in line with my values. To do this I would need to leave my old job. After a year of dissatisfaction. I took the plunge and did leave. During that time to bring me closer to my ideal job, I continued to take further training that would help me. I had decided to become a coach myself. A grief coach.
Becoming more present in my own life and starting a review of what was no longer working, it allowed me to see where I was unhappy. My coach helped me see I had outgrown my job. I had a choice to stay and plod on and retire in a few years but the death of my dad made me realize that life was too short to remain and be unhappy for a moment longer.
1. When you decide to live in the present moment, note how much more relaxed you are. By being more present you get to appreciate each moment more. Start by being present when you eat, or do the dishes. Do one task at a time.
2. Review your life and see what changes you may want to make. Start by making small changes in places that can help increase your happiness, such as eating better, exercising, and getting more sleep.
3. Set goals and timelines and put into action the steps that you can take to work towards making these changes. Find a mentor, a good friend or a coach that could help you more on your journey. Set up your goals for your future and don’t allow yourself to worry or fret over them.
Just continue to make small action steps towards the changes and where you want to be in your life. You will get there in your own time. Please reach out if you need help or guidance.