Mindfulness is a Way to Cope with Grief

“Crisis impacts your writing,” the author said. “I wrote some of my best stuff when I was in crisis.”

Though I had never met this local author before, I felt connected to her. Both of us were freelancers and both of us had experienced crisis. During our conversation, we agreed that crisis made us more appreciative of family, friends, and the blessings in our lives.

The memory of this conversation was tucked away in the back of my mind until 2007, when I lost my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law. My grief was raw and so were my emotions. Crisis made more aware of everything in life.

To recover from multiple losses, I turned to writing. As the months passed, I began to see a glimmer of light at the end of my dark grief tunnel. Months became years, and I wrote six grief resources, and hundreds of articles about grief acceptance, reconciliation, and recovery. Like my writing friend, I wrote some of my best stuff that year.

Writing expanded to talks about grief recovery. Life became busier and busier, and I worried about losing my ability to live a mindful life. What is it? Mayo Clinic describes this approach in its LiveWell newsletter article, “Mindfulness at Work.” According to the article, mindfulness is being acutely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling all the time, “without interpretation or judgment.”

The article includes tips for improving mindfulness, including attentive listening, observation, and meditation. In time, these simple exercises help your mind focus better and restore a sense of peace to your life, the article concludes.

Psychology Today posted an article about mindfulness on its website titled, “The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living the Moment.” I have condensed and summarized the steps for you.

Step one: Stop thinking about it. This takes tremendous effort, I know, but you can do it.

Step two: Focus on the present. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not come, so you may as well put them out of your mind and focus on the present.

Step three: Inhabit the present. This means you train your mind to be constantly aware and use your senses to the fullest.

Step four: Become engrossed. I love this step because I understand it. When I am writing, for example, I am totally engrossed in the task.

Step five: Accept reality. This is a challenge, to be sure, and you may try to run away from it, but grief catches up with you in time. From experience, I can tell you acceptance is the shorter route.

Step six: “Know that you don’t know.” This step is linked to acceptance. You don’t know why your loved one died at this time in your life, but it happened.

Mindfulness has become an accepted way to reduce stress, as explained on the Mindful Living Programs website. A website article, “What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?” details the work of Dr. Jon Kobat-Zinn, who developed a special program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. His program combines mindfulness techniques and yoga.

Today, his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program is offered in more than 200 medical centers, hospitals, and clinics around the world. “Mindfulness is a lifetime engagement — not to get somewhere else, but to be where and as we actually are in this very moment,” the article notes.

Living a mindful life reduced my stress and opened my eyes to the possibility of a future. I try to be mindful each day. Are you feeling lost? Do you wonder what will become of you? Instead of wasting energy on worry, try the six mindful tips. Life is a miracle and mindfulness can help you appreciate each moment.

Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson

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Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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