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Living with Grief - Mindful meditations and self-care strategies for navigating loss

Living with Grief - Mindful meditations and self-care strategies for navigating loss

Heather Stang


Verlag CICO Books, 2024

ISBN 9781800653498 , 144 Seiten

Format ePUB

Kopierschutz Wasserzeichen


17,99 EUR

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Living with Grief - Mindful meditations and self-care strategies for navigating loss


How to live with Grief

You have made a wise choice in opening this book. Even though you are grieving, anticipating a loss, or supporting others through such challenges, you have consciously reached for this guide. Your decision to delve into this journey showcases both courage and vulnerability—two essential ingredients in the recipe of resilience.

Perhaps you are curious not only about surviving grief, but how to understand it, coexist with it, and ultimately, continue living—fully, actively, meaningfully—in its presence. Your choice underscores a powerful truth: grief, while painful, does not preclude a life of purpose, connection, and even joy.

If you are in the throes of raw grief, and the idea of living fully with your loss feels unattainable, this book is for you too. The first three chapters will help you tend to acute pain. If you bought this book feeling a sense of optimism, but that spark has since flickered and dimmed, this book is still for you. Living with grief is not a linear journey. It is an ever-changing landscape, with peaks of clarity and valleys of confusion, all undulating with the ebb and flow of emotions. Some days may feel more overwhelming than others but remember; that is okay, and it is a normal, human experience of loss.

Posttraumatic Growth

If you feel skeptical and wonder if surviving grief is even possible, I assure you it is. I have worked with thousands of people in private sessions and support groups, in person and online. I meet most of my clients when the pain is fresh and raw. I am often asked how I can bear to witness this kind of suffering day after day. My answer is simple: I get to see the pain of loss change people in miraculous ways.

This is not some form of toxic positivity—that cringy tendency to overlook, belittle, or invalidate authentic human emotions such as grief, anger, regret, fear, anxiety, or shame. While positive emotions can be skillfully employed when they are genuine, they can also be harmful when forced, or when used to avoid or suppress real feelings that need acknowledgment and processing.

Personally, I do not regard my grief as a gift. If that were the case, I would gladly return this unwanted present in exchange for my loved ones—restored to a state of happiness and health—in an instant. But, given the reality of our losses, many grieving people report a positive, if uninvited, transformation.

The undeniable truth is that grief reshapes you, molding you into a different version of yourself. This transformation, not wished for but inevitable, contributes to what researchers Laurence G. Calhoun and Richard G. Tedeschi at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, call “posttraumatic growth.” This term describes the beneficial changes and aspects of personal growth that follow any significant life event (grief included) that disrupts our emotional equilibrium and challenges our existing beliefs and personal narratives. I think of this as an awakening.

In describing the beneficial aspects of posttraumatic growth, the researchers do not imply that trauma is to be sought after or minimized—it is not toxic positivity. Acknowledging posttraumatic growth is simply to recognize that positive change can emerge from traumatic experiences. There are five key elements that constitute posttraumatic growth, as outlined by Calhoun and Tedeschi:

Appreciation of life and everyday moments

Improved relationships with others (I also add with Self)

Sense of new possibilities in lifestyle and interests

Increased personal strength and self-reliance

Spiritual change or growth.

Grieving Your Way

This book is not about prescribing a singular “right” way to navigate grief. Such a thing simply does not exist. Modern grief research, or thanatology, recognizes this, even if popular culture has yet to catch up. The chapters in this book outline what I call the “Mindfulness and Grief System,” an approach that teaches you how to live with loss.

You will find numerous practices here—some will resonate deeply, while others may not. Encountering a practice that does not click can be an opportunity for self-reflection. Is it uncomfortable because it is challenging, pressing on a raw part of your grief? Or does it simply not align with your personal journey? Sometimes what we resist most can offer the deepest healing, yet it is equally important to recognize not all practices are suitable for everyone—and that is perfectly fine.

Honor your feelings, instincts, and pace. Remember, this is your journey. If a particular practice doesn’t suit you, that does not mean you are “doing grief wrong”. It simply means that there are tools and methods better suited to your needs and experiences. Be patient with yourself and keep exploring.

Your Resilience Toolkit

This guide contains the self-care practices and coping skills that I teach my clients and use myself. I include meditation, mindful movement (yoga), and journaling, as well as a few creative expression exercises.

Self-Care: The Bedrock of Resilience

Self-care practices aim to replenish your body and mind, laying a strong groundwork for your journey through grief. They help to build a supportive environment conducive to healing and growth. It is the act of showing up for yourself consistently, offering nourishment to your body, and kindness to your mind and heart.

Planning self-care can feel like a lot when you are already feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you think you do not have the time, the energy, or even that you are not worth it. So here is a simple hack: pick one exercise from the book and give yourself permission to start with just five minutes a day for one week. That’s it! You are not allowed to do more, even if you want to. Start with baby steps and see where it takes you.

Coping Skills: Your Lifeline in Stormy Seas

Coping skills are like a life jacket you can reach for when tossed into turbulent and emotional waters. They are the immediate, on-the-spot strategies that help you turn down the volume in stressful situations and calm intense emotions. While self-care practices help build resilience over time, coping skills provide immediate relief in moments of distress. They help us regain our equilibrium and offer a moment of respite from the throes of emotional pain.

You may not always remember to use your coping skills in the heat of the moment, and that is okay. Grief has a way of clouding our minds and sometimes we may simply forget. When you do remember, take a moment to celebrate this victory, however small it may seem. Over time it will become second nature.

The Role of Mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation serve as the common thread binding these practices. They infuse each element of self-care and coping with a deeper level of awareness. As you embrace mindfulness, you foster a kinder and more compassionate relationship with your grief.

Mindfulness and grief contain the seeds of transformation. Grief forces you to change by assigning you unexpected roles, removing the physical, emotional, and material resources you once had, and changing your assumptive world into an unfamiliar landscape.

Mindfulness allows you to make the most of this new territory by introducing you to the self you are in the process of becoming through your senses. As you reacquaint yourself with your spirit by slowing down and turning your focus inward, you will hear the whispered wisdom of your true self, which has long been forgotten and can now be remembered.

How to Use this Book

Each chapter in this book includes supportive meditation and journaling exercises. I have included suggested practice times for each exercise but do what works best for you. A personal daylong retreat is also included between Lesson 4 and Lesson 5. You can move through the book sequentially or jump to a lesson that feels like what you need. It is helpful to read through each exercise once or twice before you try it for the first time. Key exercises are available for download at

Bowing to Ancient Wisdom

You do not need to be a Buddhist or Yogi to benefit from mindfulness, as the wisdom of these teachings transcends boundaries and enriches lives universally. I did not invent mindfulness or yoga for grief. My simple contribution is to pair these ancient practices with modern thanatology.

The rich cultures that inform this book—Buddhist and Hindu—are two that I deeply respect and benefit from myself. I offer 10,000 bows of gratitude to the sages, teachers, and practitioners who have passed on this wisdom. May these teachings benefit all beings and help reduce suffering.

A Nod to Mindfulness and Grief

This book is an updated version of Mindfulness and Grief and replaces the eight-week plan with an eight-lesson format to eliminate any confusion about a timeframe for coping with grief. It does contain the same eight themes that are the foundation of the Mindfulness and Grief System, a technique featured in The Handbook of Grief Therapies (2023) and my guided journal, From Grief to Peace (2021). While many hospices, grief counselors, yoga therapists, and meditation instructors choose to lead this as an eight-week course, this book offers the opportunity to progress at your own pace.

My Aspiration for You

Grief isn’t something that can be fixed; it is a reality you learn to live with. It invites you to develop self-care habits, rely on healthy coping skills, and...