Grief. What does that mean exactly? Most of us relate to grief as losing someone by death. But honestly, grief is generally associated with experiencing any significant loss in your life. It could be a job, a dream that won’t come true, a relationship or divorce, a home, money once had and now lost… To me, it is important to understand how we can relate to these losses as we navigate through this life.
I have experienced loss abstractly and concretely. My father died by suicide when I was 27 years old. I received a knock at the door from a police officer telling me my father had taken his life with a gunshot wound to the head. I am sorry if that comes off harshly, but it is, and it was. But what was harsher is how I had to deal with this death. We had a funeral, disposed of his belongings, sold his business, his house, and that was it. That was it. After going through the motions of getting rid of all of his things and associations with his life, I was still left broken and wondering how to pick up the pieces.
You see, as Westerners we have been conditioned to push away our grief when we experience a loss. Like I said earlier, you have a funeral, do the necessary things, and get on with your life. I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know if it was OK to cry, get mad, be confused, or be relieved. So, I did and felt all of those things, and I sat with them. I allowed myself to really feel everything that was flowing into my body emotionally, physically, and mentally. I think at times this was confusing because I hadn’t “gotten over it” yet and since we are conditioned to grieve in a certain way, I was still grieving after the one-year anniversary of his death. As a matter of fact, the second year was harder than the first. Time has moved on, and it has been eight years now since his passing. I have found peace. I learned to breathe, I learned to meditate, and I learned that through yoga, I can always come back to me.
Over the course of the past eight years, I have experienced other losses. I got divorced from my first husband, which was a whole other way of grieving. This loss was more empowering, and I was able to feel whole again through my physical body. I became more aware. I felt sadness in a different way, because I knew my life was changing for myself and for my children. I still experienced some of the same feelings as when I lost my father. I was angry, sad, confused, and relieved.
It was after my divorce that I started thinking about grief and why it is we push it away. I started to think that grief is just as powerful as love, and the stronger the love, the more intense the grief would be. I started to see throughout the years that we have the tools to be closer to our true selves if we can feel what it is we are actually going through instead of denying it or accepting it too quickly because that is what we are “supposed” to do. There are so many reasons to deny loss, and it would take up too much time to list them here, but one of the only explanations I have is that we cannot control death. If your path is to experience loss, then you will. I can’t think of one person I know that has not been affected by loss in their life.
I have taught yoga for a few years now, and it has been through my practice and my teaching that I have learned how powerful healing can be when you are going through a loss by practicing yoga. It has transformed me from my darkest of days to my lightest of nights. It is there for me when I feel sad, when I am angry, or when I need to find clarity around my own grief. It can be there for you too. We may not be able to control all of the things that happen in our lives, but we can control how we deal with them.
To register for my next Yoga for Grief workshop, click here!
Tiffany (RYT 200®) is a student and teacher of yoga living in Baltimore, Maryland.
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