“How could he do this to me? How could he leave me? Leave us? Why did he take his life when there was so much good in it? How could he leave me with these bills to pay by myself? How could his family accuse me of having something to do with it? How could my friends turn on me when I need them most? Why don’t people understand it’s so much more painful that he took his own life? It’s not like he had cancer and he passed away, he chose to leave this world! Was I to blame in some way? What could I have done differently? Why did I have to start a fight?”
Sound familiar? Suicide grief is so unique from other types of grief. The unanswered questions are maddening. Your mind reels and reels, turning over the same painful questions that you’ll never get answers to. It’s a vicious loop, a non stop Ferris wheel in your mind. The guilt, the shame, the need to understand the WHY, they are endless and all consuming.
How do you get off the Ferris Wheel and free your mind?
Meditation and mindfulness are extremely powerful tools at your disposal!
“I’m not a Buddhist Monk, for goodness sake. Mindfulness and meditation are just a new-age trend for people to sound and feel superior or ‘enlightened’. It’s not for me.”
I get it! I really do! I know it sounds silly and at times it might feel silly. But it isn’t a new-age trend, people have been meditating since 1500 BCE. There have been countless studies as to the effects of mediation and guess what, it’s all positive. It is proven to reduce stress, elevate your mood, calm your anxiety, improve your self compassion and compassion for others, and so much more.
It can be as easy as setting a timer to allow yourself to feel the guilt, ask the questions, and reel in your mind. Then, when the timer is done, to let go of those thoughts and think of things you have to be thankful for. The most powerful thing I have found to be helpful from meditation, is freedom from toxic and racing thoughts. Those thoughts still come to me, but I am able to let them pass instead of obsessing for hours. I never noticed how obsessive my mind is. How stuck on a thought or a feeling I can become. How that thought and feeling trickles into everything I do. How the anxiety builds and manifests in my life.
“But where do I start? There’s so much information out there, it’s overwhelming!”
Start by downloading a meditation app. I love Headspace, Calm, Oak, and Meditation. Or you can search youtube for tutorials. There are so many types of meditation, so please, don’t be discouraged if you try a method and you don’t like it. There is Mindfullness meditation (I would start here), Spiritual meditation, Mantra meditation, Focused meditation, Movement meditation (as easy as a hike or yoga), and Transcendental meditation.
Here are some of the techniques of meditation I have enjoyed:
Body Scanning. This is where you set your attention on your body, freeing it from other thoughts.
Breath-Awareness. Pretty self explanatory, you focus on your breath and let thoughts come and go as you do.
Loving-Kindness. Sending loving feelings towards yourself and others. This can include forgiveness, a tool I have found very useful in forgiving my accusers and letting go of toxic feelings of anger.
Mantra Focus. You can repeat a phrase with meaning such as: “I am enough. I am doing my best and my best is good enough. Tomorrow, my best will be even better.” Or you can repeat a one word mantra without meaning such as: “shanti”. I particularly enjoy the Mantra series on the Oak App. It’s only $6 and SO worth it.
I know, you think you can’t possibly free your mind from thoughts, you’ll never be good at meditation because your mind is too busy. You are in the majority there. I have personally never meditated without a thought on my mind for longer than a few seconds. The point isn’t to free your mind from thought, to sit with an empty mind for hours. Unless you practice daily for YEARS, you likely won’t ever achieve that. The point is to learn to acknowledge your thoughts as they come and allow them to pass, judgement free. Te be in control of them.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been meditating and I think “Oh shoot, I have to pay that bill.” The key is to learn that it’s natural to have these thoughts, to not judge them as they come, and to realize you can let them go.
Let it go. Let it go.
Those aren’t just silly lyrics to a popular children’s movie. They are a mantra I want you to say to yourself when your thoughts become obsessive. View these thoughts as a river, allow the thought to pass down the water as new thoughts take their place. Imagine them as a cloud passing by. As a rock tumbling down a hillside. View them as anything you want, anything that comes and goes, anything you can view as letting it pass you by.
I hear a lot of people suffering from suicide grief say things like “stop telling me to move on”, “don’t tell me to look on the bright side”, “I can’t stop asking WHY”. I get it. You are allowed these feelings, thoughts, frustrations. But set a timer, feel it, and then let it go. There is a reason why people with a positive outlook are more resilient! Being positive doesn’t mean you never think “this isn’t fair, it’s bullshit.” But it does mean you let that feeling go when you replace that thought with, “I am so thankful for the time I had with them” or, “I am so thankful for all my support and all the people that love me.”
Spend 5 minutes meditating the first time you try it. Then, you can try 7 minutes next time. I have been meditating on and off for years and I am finally up to meditating for 30 minutes or so. If you think you are too busy, remember you are already busy thinking, why not just reshape the way you think?
“If you don’t have time to meditate for 5 minutes, then you should meditate for an hour.”An old Zen saying that has been loosely translated.
I suggest you start with guided meditation to keep your mind on track and to learn the various techniques, but you might Eventually prefer meditating on your own.
Beyond just learning to be aware of your thoughts, meditation can help improve your overall happiness. Being aware of my inner voice has been life changing. They say “you are your own worst critic” for a reason. We say terrible things to ourselves, things we wouldn’t let a stranger say to us. It has also improved my overall happiness. Meditation has taught me that I used to allow my “happiness” to be determined by outside sources. “If only I can get that job, then I’ll be happy.” “If only I can buy that house, then I will be happy.” We say this to ourselves subconsciously every day. But it simply isn’t true. Happiness can only come from within and it can only come if you have self love and self compassion. It can only be broadened by compassion for others and forgiveness. It can only come to those who are self aware and in tune with their inner self.
The benefits of meditation, focusing your thoughts, self compassion, self awareness, and forgiveness are endless and beyond rewarding. I challenge you to try it. I challenge you to give it a go.
Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read my blog. Be kind. Be kind to yourself and others! Have a great day!
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”Quote from Anonymous on Headspace.