It started the day my dad died. That Sunday was the first in two weeks when it hadn’t rained. It was the morning after my 22nd birthday when I got the phone call that I knew I would get at some point in life, just not so soon. That evening after visiting with family, my boyfriend and I came home and wanted to watch something mindless and distracting. Something that would take us to a different place mentally. Going somewhere else after an overwhelming day is necessary. I found a show on mindfulness.
I found that mindfulness is the practice of honing in on the mind-body connection. The show gave an extreme example of a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk names Thích Quang Duc who burned himself to death in a busy intersection in Saigon in 1963 in protest. Witnesses to this event reported that he was not screaming or showing any signs of physical pain.
Now, we all can’t focus on that mind-body connection to this degree.
Another example was a man who suffered panic attacks. He made friends with his panic through mindfulness and was able to ease his symptoms. I’ve struggled with mental illness and the thought of a non-drug, non-invasive method to relieving pain sounds incredibly enticing.
An hour after the episode finished, I upgraded my meditation app to the premium option. I figured throughout the next year I’ll need mindfulness-based meditation daily.
With the determination of getting into the right headspace to greet grief, I put my headphones on and focused on my breath. I cleared my head. A tear was slowly falling from my right eye when I realized- hello. This is grief.
I visualized Grief as a tiny gray figure, about the stature of a 5-year-old child. Grief was standing behind a door, with its head poked out. I went over to introduce myself, but Grief darted away. The guided meditation was over, but I wasn’t done.
I wanted to introduce myself to Grief and take the time to get to know it. Grief isn’t the loss of my dad, but the resulting feeling that I’ve now personified.
I went back to try to find Grief again, but it was gone. The feelings of losing my dad are with me every day. When I see his pictures. When I hear the songs he sang to me as a baby in my head. When I think about all of the events in my life he’ll miss, like my wedding day.
I can hear grief knocking on that door, but I need to be ready to open it.