1. Pray or meditate—in your own way or according to your spiritual or religious tradition. Consider spending part of each day in silence rather than seeking constant distraction. Meditation and prayer comfort us. In silence, we honor our loss and pray for our future. Breathe deeply and be with what is right now, even if your heart aches.
2. Build altars. Put fresh water in a favorite pottery bowl. Light candles. Make a changing altar of paintings, images, or a postcard sent by someone you love. Add feathers and stones and flowers. You might include a photo or message to the person you have lost. Consider writing yourself a note of love and empathy and put that on your altar, too. It’s easy to feel guilt or shame about grief. We need to be tender toward ourselves.
3. Create new rituals to honor loss and life. Do this within a religious or spiritual community, with friends, or on your own. Remember birthdays, last days, and anniversaries. Small rituals help us move through grief and honor our difficulties. Find a special place outside and leave flowers, stones, or pine cones there. I take my grief to the place where we buried my husband’s ashes and imagine leaving one drop of sorrow behind to lighten my load. Find more ideas in 6 Ways to Invite Love to a Death Anniversary.
5. Open your heart to the pain of the world. We instinctively recoil from pain, but experiment with opening to other’s suffering when you feel able. The more I accepted the truth that we all suffer, the more I felt a wider deeper Love stronger than the isolation and loneliness of grief.
6. Watch the night sky. Notice the phases of the moon. Admire the evening Venus and the morning Venus. Learn the constellations. The vastness of the universe keeps our loss in perspective.
7. Take comfort from spiritual teachers and books that widen your view, such as Pema Chodrun’s When Things Fall Apart or Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life or John Tarrant’s The Light Inside the Dark. These books teach us to live life fully, no matter what we face. Look for healing in poetry and sacred texts. We are reminded that loss is a universal human experience and a powerful teacher.
8. Express gratitude for all that is good in your life. Notice beauty. Notice the gift of human kindness and friendship. Along with lamenting your loss, consciously and purposefully praise what remains.
9. Notice how the outer world and your dreams guide you. Dreams or seemingly “chance” events can be messages from our deeper Self. Meaningful coincidences between our inner and outer life (synchronicity) remind us of a Greater Intelligence and Wiser Guidance.
10. Remember the words to the old Beatles song “Let it Be.” Take in the meaning of those powerful words. Sing it to yourself. When we surrender to what is, we give ourselves space to transform and grow.
“Let it Be. Let it Be.
There will be an answer. Let it Be.”
How do you tend your spirit in the rough times? How do you surrender to what is when you’re disappointed and hurt? I’m grateful to Jenna Farr Ludwig for suggesting I include synchronicity in this guide. For other posts in this three part series, see A Survival Guide for Life After Loss: Body and A Survival Guide for Life After Loss: Ten Ways to Nurture Your Soul.