Feminine Side of Grief Series
Individual Track Learning Guide
Lesson Five: Spirituality & Grief
Questions Worth Considering
Best Practices – (Choose at Least One)
1. “Grief, as I read somewhere once, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and stops at loud and rageful, and the next day at wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence.”— Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies
Meditate or journal about how your grief is changing and fluctuating. Try using metaphors and creative descriptions, just like Anne Lamott’s descriptions above, to explore your feelings and experiences.
2. “A great religious tradition does not deny the pain of loss. In the words of the Kotzker Rebbe, ‘The only whole heart is a broken one.’ No awake spirit can move through this world without enduring a broken heart. There is nothing real that makes life painless. Accepting the pain of living, knowing one’s heart will — and should — be broken, is the beginning of wisdom.”— David Wolpe in Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times
If you are grieving, find a way to honor your broken heart as a pathway to wisdom. Think of that pain caused by loss. Meditate on those feeling and rename it as “wisdom.” Instead of stating “I am feeling pain” try stating “I am feeling wisdom.” If inspired, represent this concept in poetry, art, or music. Think of how this practice could be used when helping others process heartbreak.
3. “[The following] is a Buddhist practice for transforming grief. This practice, based on the Buddhist practice of the Boundless Abodes, consists of phrases that can help us swim the waters of grief until grieving is transmuted into compassion and equanimity.” “Religion and Spirituality in Adjusting to Bereavement”
Use this meditation found in the article “Religion and Spirituality in Adjusting to Bereavement” By Joan Halifax and Crystal Park.
“In this practice, we are guided again and again toward the arms of grief. Transformation comes when we are touched by loss, come to know it, and experience purification through being fully washed in its waters. When practicing these phrases, let the body settle; you can either sit or lie down. Remember why you are practicing; cultivate a tender heart. Then find the phrase or phrases appropriate to you, practice them with the breath, or let your attention rest gently with each phrase as you work with it.
- May I fully face life and death, loss and sorrow.
- May I be open to the pain of grief.
- May I find the inner resources to be present for my sorrow.
- May loving-kindness sustain me.
- May I accept my sadness, knowing that I am not my sadness.
- May I accept my human limitations with compassion.
- May I accept my anger, fear, anxiety, and sorrow.
- May I forgive myself for not meeting my loved one’s needs.
- May I forgive myself for mistakes made and things left undone.
- May sorrow show me the way to compassion.
- May I be open with others and myself about my experience of suffering and loss.
- May I receive the love and compassion of others.
- May I find peace and strength that I may use my resources to help others.
- May all those who grieve be released from their sorrow”