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Brought to you by the Center for Loss and Life Transition - Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., Director
The Spiritual Path to Healing: Mourning Ideas, Part 2
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
NURTURE YOUR SPIRIT
- Nurturing your spirit relates to caring for that part of yourself that is transcendent. Your spirit speaks to you with inner messages and invites you to surround yourself with positive regard.
- You can care for your spirit in ways ranging from inspirational reading to listening to or playing music, being with those you feel support from, walking in the woods, strolling on the beach, or spending time in the company of wise people of any spiritual path.
- Nurturing your spirit means giving attention to your underlying beliefs and values. It also means being non-judgmental as you observe and appreciate people who have a different faith or spiritual outlook than you do. You can expand your own spiritual journey by going beyond your comfort zone and trying one of the practices in this book that you would not normally participate in.
Look over the spiritual practices in this article series and select one to participate in that you might not naturally be drawn toward. Try it out and be open to how it expands your capacity to nurture your spirit.
SET ASIDE TIME EACH DAY FOR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
- You get up every morning. You brush your teeth. You shower. You eat breakfast. Perhaps you read the newspaper or check your e-mail. You say hello to your family or coworkers or neighbors.
- Every day you engage in rituals of self-care. You take care of your body. You take care of your brain. You probably take care of your social self, at least to some degree. But how do you make sure you are caring for your emotional self and your spiritual self each and every day?
- Your spirit needs feeding just as much as your body does. Set aside time to feed it each day.
- What will you do with your spiritual time? You decide! Perhaps you have a favorite spiritual practice, such as yoga or meditation. Maybe you could use your daily time to try different ideas in this book.
You know that you're supposed to exercise your body for 30 minutes a day. Start exercising your spirit for 30 minutes a day, too. Begin today.
SEEK OUT A SPIRITUAL ADVISOR
- Many of us flounder in our spirituality, especially in the early weeks and months after the death of someone loved.
- Grief brings about a normal and necessary search for meaning. Why are we here? Why do the people we love have to die? What is the purpose of life? These are the most spiritually profound questions we have language to form.
- To assist you in your search for meaning and to provide you with spiritual mentoring, seek out the help of someone whom you find to be spiritually advanced or grounded.
- This person might be a member of the clergy or someone with formal religious or spiritual training, but it also might be someone who simply seems to connect well with the spiritual realm.
Right now, make a list of three local people you look up to spiritually. Try to identify someone with whom you can meet in person periodically. Call him or her today and extend an invitation to meet for coffee.
REACH OUT TO OTHERS FOR HELP
- Perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself at this difficult time is to reach out for help from others.
- Think of it this way: Grieving may be the hardest work you have ever done. And hard work is less burdensome when others lend a hand. Life's greatest challenges-getting through school, raising children, pursuing a career—are in many ways team efforts. So it should be with mourning.
- Sharing your pain with others won't make it disappear, but it will, over time, make it more bearable.
- Reaching out for help also connects you to other people and strengthens the bonds of love that make life seem worth living again. But just like gardens, good friends must be cultivated. True friends are blessings during overwhelming times such as this. If you have some, give thanks!
- When Bill Cosby's son Ennis was murdered, Mr. Cosby reached out to other families who were that day also confronted with the murder of their children. He was not alone and you aren't either.
Call a close friend who may have distanced himself from you since the death and tell him how much you need him right now. Suggest specific ways he can help.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF
- Good self-care is nurturing and necessary for mourners, yet it's something many of us completely overlook.
- Try very hard to eat well and get adequate rest. Lay your body down 2-3 times a day for 20-30 minutes, even if you don't sleep. I know—you probably don't care very much about eating well right now, and you may be sleeping poorly. But taking care of yourself is truly one way to fuel healing and to begin to embrace life again.
- Listen to what your body tells you. "Get some rest," it says. "But I don't have time," you reply. "I have things to do." "OK, then, I'll get sick so you HAVE to rest," your body says. And it will get sick if that's what it takes to get its needs met!
- Drink at least 5-6 glasses of water each day. Dehydration can compound feelings of fatigue and disorientation.
- Exercise not only provides you with more energy, it can give you focused thinking time. Take a 20-minute walk every day. Or, if that seems too much, a five-minute walk. But don't over-exercise, because your body needs extra rest, as well.
- Now more than ever, you need to allow time for you.
Are you taking a multi-vitamin? If not, now is probably a good time to start. In part, you can think of it as a spiritual self-care vitamin!