by Lou LaGrand, grief counselor and author

Are you in a state of confusion? Have you made the decision that you will get through this loss? Are you confronting your loss and fears? If not, why not?

Peace of mind is the ultimate goal of good grief so that one can begin the work of reinvesting in a life in the absence of the physical presence of the deceased. Peace of mind is also an inner strength that has both emotional and biological value of immense proportions. From it flows unexpected joy and a new energy base. But how can a mourner get it in the turmoil of grieving?

Even though you may be grieving, everyone has the capacity-regardless of background or experience-to obtain this precious commodity. Achieving inner peace is not only one of the tasks of your grief work, it is the foundation for adapting to perpetual change. Here is one proven approach to consider in this quest.

1. It all begins with desiring it; really wanting it 100 per cent (not, 50, 75, or 98 percent). If you decide yes, it becomes one of the highest priorities of daily life. This intent is essential. You will base decisions on what is important for you to challenge or to let go of. And, you will be more open to learning what others have accomplished in order to find inner peace. Be aware that there is great wisdom out there in the experience of others. Recognize that peace of mind is an ongoing work in progress, not something you “get” and do not have to maintain.

2. Take a personal time-out each day. For most, this is the most difficult part of finding peace because it means cutting into the rapid paced living style that is characteristic of western culture. Look at your daily schedule and find a way to spend 20 minutes just for yourself. Get away from it all, the telephones, radio, and television. Seek the solitude you deserve. Listen to soothing music or visualize your favorite nature view as you are lying down with your feet elevated on a pillow.

3. During reflection time, review your past life for what you are grateful for. This is another key piece of inner work that is necessary to change your inner focus. Include the positive authority figures in your life, the books that influenced you, your friends, clergy, and the experiences that taught you important lessons. This daily task will positively influence your unconscious mind and the effect it can have on your self-image and your coping image.

4. Each day at reflection time, further develop your gratitude attitude by writing down at least three things you are grateful for that happened the preceding day, whatever they may be. You made it through the visit with your attorney, an old friend telephoned, you had a great, loving flashback memory, one of your kids said “I love you,” you thoroughly enjoyed your visit to the seashore, or your loan application was approved, are examples. Don’t forget all of the so-called little things–your mobility, a place to sleep, an automobile, neighborhood, abilities you use, and hobbies. You will profit significantly from where this developing mind set eventually takes you.

5. Adopt the belief that you always have a silent partner–your Higher Power. Your Higher Power (God, Krishna, Allah, The Source, The Universe) will always be there with you. You are never alone. You always have a divine being to turn to for help. There is no separation from this Power. Ask for assistance, the wisdom to fully examine and make the correct choices. You will receive it. Pray for the strengthening of this belief and watch the results unfold in your life as many before you have reported.

6. Make it a habit to start living according to this scientifically proven observation: for every thought or emotion you accept there is a corresponding physical representation of that thought or emotion in your body. When you grieve, every cell in your body feels the tension. Negative thoughts heighten stress levels; they possess great power to minimize you as a person. Keep putting this question to yourself, “Do I want peace or conflict to dominate my life?” Rid yourself of negativity.

At all costs, avoid common energy drains. Yes, it is hard work. You have to be vigilant and aware of what you allow to stay within. For example, forgiving others and yourself puts money in your energy bank. Choose loving thoughts and joyful memories to energize you because what you give out keeps finding its way back.

7. Every day give yourself a relief break from grief work. Allow yourself to be distracted from grief. Accept an invitation to eat out. Go window shopping. Find something to do that gives temporary release from sadness. Everyone needs it. Smile back. And it’s okay to laugh when appropriate. You are not showing disrespect to your loved one in any way. These breaks are absolutely necessary to your mental and physical health. They will promote healthy grieving without illness.

8. Last but not least, peace of mind is attainable if you choose to exercise daily and make it a major goal of reinvesting in life. Physical activity is not only a proven stress reducer, it will increase blood flow to the brain. Numerous studies have shown that exercise releases natural tranquilizing chemicals in the brain bringing relief from the constant demands of grief work. Walk daily for a mere 20-30 minutes.

Make the commitment today to self-care and you will take a major step toward eliminating unnecessary suffering as you grieve the loss of your loved one.

Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, the popular Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His free monthly ezine website is

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