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Why It Is So Hard For Us to Accept the Loss of a Loved One

Why It Is So Hard For Us to Accept the Loss of a Loved One

Having a loved one die is like becoming a part of a club you never wanted to join. This is especially the case if the death is untimely, such as a young child passing, or the accidental death of a spouse. You may feel labeled by your loss and that the burden of this loss on your life is one that you will never overcome. Acceptance of a loved one’s death is possible, however it will also forever change you as a person. Your ability to process the death and the subsequent stages of grief will get you to acceptance. Acceptance of death does not mean you are left unscathed. Death of a loved one will change you forever, but how you deal with the grieving process will determine your acceptance and ability to move forward in life.

The real problem is that most people in the midst of their sorrow can’t imagine accepting the loss of their loved one. To do so would inadvertently mean that the person wasn’t that meaningful or that they aren’t worth the pain and sorrow. A good article on grief by Marty Tousley [1]. These steps are denial/ isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People do not always go through these steps in the exact order. In some cases people may actually skip some of the steps.

However, these five steps are generally what most people immersed in grief experience. These stages have been studied by researchers and have been shown to be a commonly experienced across all the population, regardless of culture, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, etc. Understanding these stages can help an individual who is grieving, as they can recognize that their emotions are legitimate and commonly experienced by others who experience grief.

Professor Allan Kellehear wrote the the forward in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s well known book “On Death and Dying”.[2] This is the book in which she lays out the stages of the grieving process. The Professor noted the following in his forward regarding the flexibility allowed within these stages of grief:

“These stages are merely a set of categories artificially isolated and separately described so that the author can discuss each of these experiences more clearly and simply. The careful reader will note Kübler-Ross’s own repeated warnings that many of these “stages” overlap, occur together, or even that some reactions are missed altogether.”

The useful visual (below) of the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief was found at www.slideshare.net.[3] This is a general guideline and description of the stages, but once again, they can be experienced in a different order and/or stages in the process skipped altogether. These are a generalization of the grieving process, so you can recognize these emotions in yourself when you are grieving.

    Acceptance is the last, but not least stage.

    The crux of acceptance is the assumption that this means the person experiencing the grief is now healed, they are once again whole, and that the feelings of loss will be gone forever. That simply is not how grief and acceptance work.

    Acceptance involves the recognition that your life and your soul are somehow in some way changed forever because of the loss of your loved one. You will never return to that person you were before the loss. You are changed. For most people, the change is not good and it is not bad. The change just means you are different now that your loved one is no longer with you. They are with you in spirit and in your thoughts and mind, but physically they can’t be with you any longer.

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    The Funeral Resources Website speaks to the topic of acceptance and how it is a time when the individual realizes they are not the same person they were before.[4] Acceptance is to be oneself in your new life, a changed you, because your loved one is no longer present physically in your life.

    Acceptance should not be confused with healing or recovering from the loss, since that would put an enormous amount of pressure on people experiencing grief. Acceptance is really the beginning of the real healing process. It is the point where recovery becomes about the person left behind, and not about the person being mourned.

    Embrace the process.

    The grieving process is not easy. It’s not a smooth path either. More often than not, it is bumpy, uncomfortable, and a miserable blip in your time on this planet. But that is exactly what it is, a blip. It is not a permanent phase, even though it may feel permanent at that moment. You may be in the depression stage where you feel extreme sadness and loss. This feeling can be so overwhelming you wonder if you will ever experience happiness or joy again. You can, and you will, if you allow yourself to move one step in front of the other. To continue to live and allow yourself to process your emotions and feelings. If you don’t, you can get stuck in a phase of grief or it can come back to deliver its wrath and compounded emotions at a later time. It is always better to deal with the emotions and feelings as they naturally come through the processing of grief. Embrace your blip in time and acknowledge these emotions and steps of grief as you go through them. Author Luminita Saviuc in her article “7 Ways to Deal with the Death of a Loved One” discussed the grieving process and eloquently stated:[5]

    “Feel the pain, embrace it, live it and when you’re ready, know that it’s okay to let go of it for the healing process can’t be complete until you learn to let go. Let go in order to be happy once again.”

    Information is power.

    To embrace the process it is helpful to understand the process. The stages of grief are not a one size fits all. Everyone experiences grief in a unique fashion, as each human being is unique. However, the stages or steps in the grieving process provide some generalization about how most of the population on the planet experiences grief. There can be ups and downs in these steps, there can be repeating of steps, and in some cases steps are skipped altogether. Understanding all of these things and allowing yourself to process each stage as your emotional makeup allows is important.

    Other factors such as emotional support and professional help are also important, especially when a person is stuck within a stage of grieving or is otherwise repressing emotions to try to suppress the process of grief.

    Get emotional support.

    You are not an island in this world. Everyone is connected to other people and everyone needs those connections, especially when you are grieving. There are times in the grieving process that you will want to be left alone. Jinna Yang in her article “10 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Death of a Loved One”, eloquently described her process of grieving the loss of her Father, which literally took her years.[6] There were times she wanted to be left alone, yet other times that a friend was exactly what she needed for emotional support to get her through that time of grief. Everyone needs emotional support. However, levels of emotional support required for one person are not the same for another, even if the situation or circumstances are similar. We all grieve and process our emotions differently. However, emotional support is proven beneficial to an individual during times of grief. If you are experiencing grief, be open to the support and comfort provided by others. Allow yourself an openness so that others can be of emotional support to you.

    Seek counseling and guidance.

    Grief counseling, also know as bereavement counseling is immensely helpful to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. The sooner the therapy is sought after the loss, the more beneficial that therapy can be in assisting with the immediate grieving process.

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    The Psychology Today Website has a search tool for you to locate a grief therapist in your area.[7] Their search tool includes counselors, therapist, psychologist, and psychiatrists. Use your zip code to search and you can also narrow your search by insurance carriers that the providers accept. Support groups are also available through this search tool on the Psychology Today Website. Try one method of therapy and if it isn’t a good fit then try another, as therapy is not a one size fits all remediation.

    Reference

    [1]Open to Hope: Can We Ever ‘Accept’ Death of a Loved One” discussed acceptance and so wisely states the following to mourners:

    “You are not alone in feeling “a huge aversion to any thought of moving on, healing, closure, acceptance, acknowledgement, etc.” Most of us mourners have trouble with words like “acceptance,” because in truth the death of our loved ones will never, ever be “acceptable” to us”.

    To be in the midst of mourning the loss of a loved one, it is most unfathomable to imagine “accepting” the death. Acceptance isn’t in the realm of a current mourner’s feelings or even desired emotions. They need to process their pain and grief and then the subsequent acceptance will come in due time, as they process through the stages of grief.

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    The Stages of Grief

    There are five primary stages of grief. Psych Central describes the widely accepted theory of grief processing, which includes five steps or stages ((Psych Central: The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss

    [2]Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation: On Death and Dying
    [3]SlideShare: Kubler Ross Grief Cycle
    [4]Funeral Resources Website: The Five Stages of Grief
    [5]Purpose Fairy: 7 Ways to Deal With the Death of a Loved One
    [6]Huffington Post: 10 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Death of a Loved One
    [7]Psychology Today: Find a Grief Therapist

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

    Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor How To Stop Insecure Attachment from Wreaking Havoc on Your Love Life 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Stop Feeling Lonely

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    Published on November 28, 2018

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

    So how to do meditation?

    The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

    Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

    From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

    You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

    1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

    Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

    The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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    The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

    Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

    2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

    Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

    Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

    Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

    • Living things, such as plants
    • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
    • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
    • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
    • Furniture away from walls
    • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
    • Incense or something else that smells good
    • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

    Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

    3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

    In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

    However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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    In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

    Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

    Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

    4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

    Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

    Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

    Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

    5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

    At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

    Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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    We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

    This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

    6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

    As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

    Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

    If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

    If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

    7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

    What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

    Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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    1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
    2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
    3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
    4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
    5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

    As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

    Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

    You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

    Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

    You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

    Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

    You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

    You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

    As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

    Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
    [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
    [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
    [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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