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3 Things I Wish I Knew About Grief From The Beginning

Updated: Apr 10

3 Things I Wish I Knew About Grief From The Beginning3 Things I Wish I Knew About Grief From The Beginning

Do you know how to support yourself through grief?

Learning how to grieve is a life skill that our society does not embrace. When my father died of cancer during my junior year in high school, no one was there to teach me how to grieve. I didn't know how to move through and healthily experience the emotional roller coaster. Personally, I turned to alcohol to "aid" my grief and continued down a path of destruction for almost a decade until one fateful trip to my local public library.

One of my favorite things to do is to walk down a random library shelf and see if any books jump out to me. As I walked the stacks that day and turned a corner, one book jumped out to me immediately. That book was "Grieving Mindfully" by Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D. This book changed everything for me and finally allowed me to process and move through my stagnant grief.

Over the last 21 years, I have learned a lot about grief, the grieving process, and how to support a grieving person. Here are the 3 things I wish I knew about grief from the beginning.

Acute Grief Makes it Hard to Breathe

The physical symptoms associated with grief are indistinguishable from what the body experiences during exposure to prolonged stress. One of the first physical symptoms to arise is, disrupted breathing. It's common for grieving people to hold their breath or take short-shallow breaths without even realizing it.

This unsettled way of breathing disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body and directly influences the nervous system. Shallow breathing exacerbates feelings of anxiety and makes physical symptoms of stress worse.

Pranayama or breath awareness and control is one of the most supportive and transformative practices we can incorporate into our grieving process.

If you are grieving, I invite you to find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Lay down on your back in a comfortable position, using blankets and pillows to support your body as needed. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Close your eyes if you feel safe and notice your natural breath. From there, begin to take deeper breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, exaggerating your breath in your belly. Try to expand your breath into your midsection and then expand through your chest. On your exhale, release your breath through your mouth and try to notice how it gently falls with gravity as you breathe out.

Grief is Unpredictable

Most people have heard of the "Five or Seven Stages of Grief." What you may not realize is that these stages were not intended to explain what people experience in losing a loved one. Instead, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the stages of grief to help patients come to terms with their own terminal illnesses.

Grief is much more complex than defined stages.

Grief is a nonlinear journey that resembles a labyrinth. We twist and turn through emotions that can arise out of nowhere and can change from one moment to the next. The most unfortunate side effect of a society buying into a grief experience with defined stages is that grieving people often chastise themselves when they think they aren't moving through the grief process in the "right way."

Grief is not a race, a test, or a competition. Grief is a personal experience and will happen on your own schedule in your own way. Your grief process for each loss you encounter will bring its own extraordinary challenges. Your grieving process is as unique as your fingerprint.

"Your grieving process is as unique as your fingerprint." – Dani Frank

Avoidance Will Only Make Things Worse

Just last week my therapist and I were talking about grieving and my journey. She reminded me how brave she found my process of not being afraid to explore the void of loss.

I deeply understand how unthinkable it can be to face the loss of a loved one head-on and acknowledge the painful feelings swirling inside. But, avoiding grief and its associated emotions is like ignoring a dripping pipe in the upstairs bathroom. Over time, damage acclimates, and then the ceiling comes crashing down when you least expect it.

Therapy has been an integral part of my healing experience. My therapist and I have created a safe space where she can witness as I identify and process difficult emotions. And when I'm stuck, she gently guides me to take the tiniest of steps forward.

My personalized yoga practice is another lifeline in my grieving process. Through mindfully created yoga protocols I can give my body the support it needs to release the physical energy of grief from my tissue. Often it's after a yoga practice that I find clarity in my emotions and can articulate what I'm experiencing

Cultivating your Grief Toolkit

These 3 points are just a few things that I've learned over the years through my grief journey that I wish I knew sooner. I have so much more to share with you. I created the eBook, "Yoga for Grief: The Healing Practice" to offer you practice that can support immediately. Click Here to download your copy today.

If you are ready to take charge of your healing, I am ready to support you. Click Here to schedule a time for us to connect and begin that conversation.


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I'm Dani

I blend the transformative power of therapeutic yoga and career coaching to guide your toward holistic well-being and professional fulfillment. 

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