Healing from Grief and Loss
by Delia Quigley
“If you do not bring forward what is within you, what is within you will destroy you. But if you bring forward what is within you, what is within you will heal and save you.” The Gospel of Thomas
We want the security of knowing that life will hold the pattern we create, the niche we carve out for ourselves in whatever space we can claim as our own. When we lose what we love, our pattern is changed forever, and we descend into grief. This time of grieving invites us to be still, to sit quietly and allow the process to unfold. We might think that some kind of action needs to take place, some moving on from the sadness; in fact, it is in giving time to your grief that it becomes a transformative experience.
When a close friend died of cancer, many people in my circle of friends were devastated by the loss. I remember waking up the morning after he died knowing that my world had changed forever, and I right along with it. I found myself looking at each moment as if he would appear again in my field of vision. I felt so weighed down with sorrow that there was nothing to do but sit in emptiness. Even knowing his illness was terminal, those of us around him refused to acknowledge that he was dying. Later, when we looked at pictures, taken days before his passing, we were shocked at what was so evident. The man was dying, and we couldn’t let him go.
When we lose someone or something we love, we are faced with the space that person held and we fill it with grief and longing. Grieving is the emotional healing our mind needs to recover from loss. If we are unable to grieve our losses, we have difficulty moving on. We forfeit some of our emotional flexibility. Our psyches develop hard spots, which may manifest themselves in habitual anger, irritability, anxiety, depression, or addiction.
Taking my grief to the meditation cushion, I sat and watched my breath, cried, sobbed, blew my nose, and watched my breath some more. There were mornings I couldn’t sit still and was overcome by sadness again, and so I would do my yoga, moving slowly from one posture to another. Gradually, what I called the “grief balloon” began to deflate, and this incredible feeling of love was there to fill the space. My attachment to my friend’s death had dissolved, and I was filled with the purity of unconditional love that had formed the basis of our relationship.
Meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, and author of The Experience of Insight, writes that love that comes from wisdom is an “unconditional, universal loving kindness—a feeling of friendliness and warmth for all beings everywhere.” All that you can do to shed your grief and replace it with love is to be patient, do the practice, and meditate. That’s all that’s required.