Death, Grief and Healing
January 26, 2016 | by Michelle Meier
When someone you love dies, people always say, "I'm sorry for your loss." It's not a loss. It can be a gain, too. If you keep your heart open.
In the past couple of weeks I've heard news of many deaths, not just celebrity deaths like David Bowie and actor Alan Rickman (whom I loved in the Harry Potter movies) but also through my friends (one whose wife died, one whose dad died, one whose boss died, another whose dog died)...it just doesn't seem to end.
Although I feel like I'd been pretty strong when my mom died from cancer three years ago, somehow all this news of death shook me to the core this week. As strong as I can be, sometimes I feel so vulnerable.
Death is generally frowned upon as a dark and sad subject. I'd like to shed some light on it, which is why I'm now writing a book on the topic.
The truth is death is inevitable: we must all face losing our loved ones and eventually we must face our own death. We can't control when or how that will be and, for some of us, it can feel like it's way too soon when that time is up.
Like with everything in life, how we face death and grief is everything.
Grief is such a personal journey. There is no "right" way to do it; we just have to go through it. And just because I lost my mom doesn't mean I'll understand exactly what you're feeling and going through when you're grieving.
Whatever it is, though, you have to let yourself feel whatever you're feeling without judgment, whether it is sadness, anger or confusion or even if it's laughter and lightheartedness.
Yes, you read that correctly. Laughter and lightheartedness. There was a lot of that during my mom's final months on this earth and even thereafter when my dad, sister and I were grieving the loss of the one woman we all loved more than anything.
As a kid I used to tell my mom that when it was her turn to die, I would die with her--we'd go together to Heaven. She was my best friend, my soul mate. But three years ago I accepted that her time was up. It was not for me to decide. God has a plan and a reason for everything, even if I don't understand the bigger picture.
My mom was always so positive even when given her 6-month life sentence. She courageously focused on all the love and joy in her life and, as a family, we found ourselves laughing and giggling together, enjoying those final months to the fullest. It was because of my mom's incredible spirit in the face of death that I began to learn how I could live my life.
Losing the ones we love reminds us how short, precious and unpredictable life is. It reminds us what matters most in life: love, joy, family, friends, community and connection.
I often share with people that my mom not only gave me life but she gave me her death. It is through her death that I found my purpose in life: to teach therapeutic yoga and to help people become active participants in their health and healing.
So it wasn't just a loss. It was a gain, too.
It is thanks to God and to my yoga mat for keeping my heart open during the biggest heartbreak of my life. I don't know where I'd be without either.
I felt God's presence more than ever in the darkest scariest moments, guiding me, carrying me, comforting me. God gave me strength I never knew I possessed. God showed me there's so much more to life than meets the eye.
Yoga helped me stay open to the magic and beauty of life. Grief is a heavy energy. It sits like a pit in your stomach and led in your heart. Physiologically the body contracts around the heart (the shoulders will slump forward, the diaphragm contracts) to go into protective mode when we are grieving. Yoga helped me move that energy through my body instead of letting it get stuck in there. Yoga gave me purpose.
Whether you're grieving the death of a loved one or grieving the end of a relationship or the end of a chapter in your life, may you feel God's love for you and trust in the Divine Plan that is perfect for us all.
May you always keep your heart open to life's magic.
"Grief is such a personal journey. There is no "right" way to do it; we just have to go through it."