Mantras for Mourning
Two and a half years after my mother’s death, I still discover unexpected ways in which grief opens my heart. I am learning that grief, while painful and disorienting at times, can also offer opportunities for profound growth and fresh awareness. It still hurts, often. But I have chosen not to wall myself off when the ache bubbles up. The trick is learning how to coexist with grief so that I can continue to be present and heal.
My family recently spent three glorious months on the beaches of Costa Rica. We explored and played and bathed in the sun. Often, while watching my children dance in the surf, I would think of Mom and how much she loved the ocean. In these moments I missed her something fierce. I found that I was ignoring what was here because I was hyper focused on what was absent.
Mantras Return Us to Center
As a way of working through these moments, when missing her felt almost unbearable, I started using simple little mantras to help steady myself until the weight lifted. Grief affirmations are short but powerful phrases I repeat to myself when I need to come back from the abyss.
In time, these mantras for mourning become internal thoughts that shaped my reality. With a little practice, I learned to return to center. I began to appreciate, with new clarity, how precious it all is. How fleeting. I held each shell a little longer, rolled it between my fingers and listened to the echo at its heart. I splashed in the waves with my children and imagined the salt scrubbing me clean. The sunset came, and I took a little longer with it. I sat with her and with my grief and I was grateful.
Five Mantras for Mourning
The following are five mantras that have helped loosen the grip of grief, just a little, and ground me in my connection to what is still good.
- There is no “right way” to grieve
It is important for me to remember that I am allowed to grieve and that it does not have to look a certain way or follow a prescribed course. My process will look different from others who have lost a parent, if for no other reason than the fact that my relationship with my mother was unique. All relationships are unique. This is the reason my process may also look different from that of my brothers or my father. We are individuals and our experiences will be as individual as we are. I am allowed to grieve in the way that I need to.
- I am healing
When I’m grieving, I sometimes forget that I am no longer the same person as before. With loss comes change, and this is okay! I am still getting to know this new person and this new normal. It takes time.
- Everything is temporary, including pain
Death makes impermanence very real. It is perhaps this very realization that makes it hard for me to accept that even grief is temporary. I don’t want things to be ephemeral and changing, this makes things unpredictable. But that doesn’t change the fact that change is the only constant. And acknowledging this has been incredibly helpful in my darkest moments. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass”.
- I am loved and connected
Just because she’s not here physically, doesn’t mean I no longer feel her love. Love doesn’t just cease to exist. I keep that connection alive by honoring special moments and traditions. I bring her into the space and I talk about her when something brings her to mind.
- Joy and grief can coexist
One of the harder parts of letting go is allowing for joy to reenter my life. I remind myself that I am not dishonoring her or my grief by experiencing joy. She would want me to be happy! I won’t forget her, that isn’t possible. I can let go of my grief without letting go of my love.
Mantras Help with Grounding
Grief mantras do not remove the grief entirely. But they help. And when I get a little more grounded, I am open to the blessings hidden in my loss.
Suffering is a part of life. This could be its own mantra! The challenge is to continue to be open in the face of suffering. Heartache often leads to wisdom, leading to compassion, and ultimately grace. When I find grief overwhelming, I come back to these mantras and let them guide me in my journey towards the light.
Read more from Sara Striefel on Open to Hope: Through the Holidays, Grief Just Is – Open to Hope