Tara Haelle’s interesting post introduces some important ideas about the intersections of grief and loss with the crises of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ambiguous grief is central to our current experience and she offers some good strategies for managing it, including acceptance, setting reasonable expectations, and finding fulfillment in familiar activities.
Another challenge of the pandemic is our need for the “long view” or life after the pandemic. So much of our attention can be directed to the point in time when the pandemic ends, but as Haelle correctly notes, we are nowhere near the end. So how can focusing on the present moment by adopting a mindful approach to grieving be helpful?
- Mindfulness engages us in the present moment. Cultivating mindful awareness gives us a sense of time and place and amplifies our sense of control over our circumstance
- Focusing on the present reduces the stress of looking ahead and the “what-if’s” that come along with it
- Mindful awareness, when coupled with attention to the breath, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system or the part of our wiring that is responsible for rest and relaxation
Mindfulness as a practice of self-care was pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zinn who defines it as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. As I share this concept with my clients, I emphasize the non-judgmental nature of this focus. When we simply notice, rather than appraise what is happening and what we are feeling, we are better able to quiet the nervous chatter of the mind. Free from this distraction, we can then invest our energy in what is available in the present moment.
Want to learn more? Join j for our Conversation Café on Monday September 21 at 7pm for a lively discussion about mindfulness and learn some practical applications for your daily life.