Written for opentohope.com
There is something very important I want to share with you, so listen deep. As a bereavement counselor I speak with numerous people on a daily basis about loss.
The number one thing I feel from people is guilt. The words pour out of them, “If I hadn’t take them to the hospital…” or “What if I hadn’t put him in a nursing home?” “I should have called her more.” Let me tell you something: In those moments when you made the decisions to do or say what you did, you were reacting from that moment and the love in your heart .
As I spoke to a woman the other day in the first few minutes we were talking, she was sharp tongued, quick with answers. “How are you doing” I asked, She replied, “I’m angry, I brought him to the hospital and it made him worse! It was all down hill from there!”
I listened to her go on, she might as well had someone punching her telling her over and over again you’re a bad daughter. After she was finished I said, “ Can I share something with you?” I began to explain to her what dying truly is. Her dad was 91 full of life until he fell, she took him to the hospital but he continued to decline from his fall. They brought him home and he died. I spoke to her gently saying when he fell, you did what any daughter would do, you love your dad and your first response was he needed to go to the hospital to be checked out. A bunch of things can go wrong with a 90-year old body after it falls. Here’s the most important point, in order to die we have to leave these bodies behind. Unfortunately, most of the time we leave our bodies through disease and accidents. Unless, of course, your one of those very blessed souls, who dies peacefully in their sleep. I wish that for all of us.
This beautiful woman who I was talking to became silent on the other end of the phone. She wanted to be freed from the endless suffering the brain can create when we keep going back to second guess our actions. Truly, this second-guessing is wasted energy. These thoughts are a non-thing, something the mind creates. Why you ask? Because we are human, the left-brain has a field day analyzing. Try not to analyze too much when your grieving it can put you into a downward spiral. I teach people ways to help with this because when we are grieving the present moment is our friend. I know this because it is what helped me with my own parent’s deaths. Below is a simple exercise you can do to train your mind out of that loop.
When you are beating your beautiful self up, please go into your heart. Sit down, put your hand on your heart, close your eyes, and breathe, just breathe, slow down the breath slows down the busy mind. Losing a loved one is so traumatic no matter the age, changing your life forever. Nurture yourself! As you sit please bring the most loving memory of the loved one into your heart. Continue to breath in and out slowly.
When you think of a loving memory, bring in all the senses too. The smells, the FEELINGS, laughter, warm smiles, hugs. See the colors of the memory and even what you may have heard. Recall that life, and the gifts that came with it. You can change that downward spiral; get out of that loop in the brain. As with any new practice take your time with this. If the mind wanders gently bring it back with the breath even if you have to say the words I am breathing in… I am breathing out. All this little mindful exercise does is slow down the brain, refocusing into the present moment.
Written for opentohope.com