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Put one hand on your lower belly.

What is grief?

First take a normal breath. Now try a slow, deep breath. The air coming in through your nose should move downward, expanding your lungs fully so that your lower belly expands. Now breathe out through your mouth or nose, if that feels more natural. Alternate between normal and deep breathing several times, paying attention to how you feel with each breath.

Shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted. Practice deep breathing for several minutes. Put one hand just below your navel. Feel your hand move about an inch each time you inhale. Your chest will expand slightly, too, in concert with your abdomen. Try to relax your belly. As you exhale slowly, let yourself sigh out loud. Choose a focus word.

Losing Both Parents by Age 27: How I Began to Heal

A focus word or phrase enhances your sense of peace, relaxation, and connection while you practice breath focus or other meditations. Repeat these words mentally as you perform the exercise. You might say one word or phrase to yourself as you breathe in and another as you breathe out, or just use one word or phrase as you exhale. Bring these elements together. As you sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with a focus word or phrase.

Imagine that the air you breathe in washes peace and calm into your body. As you breathe out, imagine that the air leaving your body carries tension and sadness with it. Try to practice breath focus for 10 to 20 minutes daily, preferably at the same time of day. If that goal seems impossible, try it for a few minutes whenever you feel symptoms of stress.

Waiting for Answers: A Parent's Guide to Grief, Resolution, and Healing

Mini-relaxations can be practiced almost anytime and anywhere. They are especially helpful when you feel signs of stress building up.


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When you have one minute. Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation. When you have three minutes. While seated, take a break to check your body for tension.

Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart.

Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly. Each time you breathe out, try to relax your body even more. When you have 10 minutes or more. If you feel too fidgety to use breath focus alone, combine it with repetitive exercises, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming. Once you get started, try breathing rhythmically. Repeat your focus word, phrase, or prayer. Adopt a passive attitude. When disruptive thoughts intrude, gently turn your mind away from them and focus again on moving and breathing.

When grief is new, the pain feels fresh and sharp. As time goes on, it often dulls or recedes entirely for long stretches. That can seem oddly sad—as if holding on to pain is a measure of respect or duty and letting go means betraying someone you love or forever breaking ties that bind you. Try not to equate clinging to pain with holding on to the person who died. A strong connection can be maintained in other ways.

A sounding board, a voice of experience, people to share with—a good grief support group promises many things. Should you join one? That depends on your circumstances. But if you think you could benefit from talking about your experiences and hearing about those of others, you may find a group quite helpful. Sometimes friends and family members shy away from strong emotions and sad topics. These attitudes only isolate you further and make you feel worse.

A grief support group can offer understanding and a sense of connection. In the company of others treading a similar path, you can express strong feelings, validate the varied emotions you feel, and possibly even hear good advice. Grief support groups differ widely.

They may be open to anyone or focus on particular diseases or situations, such as a group for widowers or bereaved children. Some groups are ongoing; others convene for a specific length of time. Groups may charge fees, which are sometimes covered by health insurance. Certain organizations consist of a network of self-help groups. Through the group Compassionate Friends, for example, parents who have experienced grief after the death of a child of any age reach out to other parents in similar circumstances.

A local hospice, hospital, or community organization may be able to guide you to a group that is capably led and seems to be a good fit.

Your doctor, a therapist, or a religious organization might also be able to help you locate a support group. In that case, you might consider one-on-one counseling. In such cases, you may find it helpful to turn to a mental health professional. It may also be useful if you are dealing with issues that are too complicated or far-reaching to discuss in a support group—for example, if you had a very conflicted relationship with the person who died or you are coping with a traumatic death.

A psychiatrist can also help evaluate whether you might benefit from medication, such as an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety drug. Start your search for a good mental health professional by gathering referrals for a grief specialist from your doctor and people you trust.


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  4. Once you have a few names, call to learn more about the following aspects of treatment. Ask the counselor or therapist to describe his or her training.

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    A grief therapist should be trained and licensed as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. Ask how much experience the counselor or therapist has with the issues you are facing. How much of his or her practice is devoted to this? How much is devoted to people in the same age range? This is especially important when asking on behalf of bereaved children and teens. Ask what the goals are for counseling or therapy. Goals differ depending on needs, of course.

    One goal might be to help you explore and resolve issues that may be interfering with healthy grieving, such as an idealized image of the person who died, angry or conflicted feelings about the deceased, or the weight of multiple losses or earlier losses that were never fully mourned.

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    Waiting for Answers: A Parent's Guide to Grief, Resolution, and Healing - Betsy Haid - Google книги

    Others could be to encourage healthy expressions of grief and guide you toward adopting helpful coping strategies. Discuss fees and health insurance coverage issues. Also ask about the number of sessions covered under your plan. An initial meeting can help you decide if this is a good fit.

    If you have a friend or relative who is grieving, it can be hard to know how to console him or her.