Grief and Mindfulness

  
Working in Mindfulness, I often try to be objective, to encourage others to see life and its happenings from a neutral standpoint.

But – when life throws us a curveball and we experience painful or intense emotions — it can seem impossible to remain neutral and therefore we can become easily overwhelmed.

It’s true that life isn’t always easy, and it’s not always fair. 
But Mindfulness isn’t about creating happy endings or sprinkling fairy dust on difficult situations. It’s not a way out of life, it’s a way through.

And it’s something that I’m using right now.

You see, very recently – around 7 weeks ago – I lost a relative who was very dear to me. It is the second loss in our family in the space of 3 years, a period of time that has seen me move house twice and have two babies. An intense period, to say the least.

And the loss, if I’m honest, is only just beginning to settle in. But I’m noticing it and I’m aware. I’m noticing how my thoughts drift to memories, both happy and sad. I’m noticing my tendency to hold it all in and keep face in front of my children.

I’m noticing the lingering sadness and how I want to shout to the world “Wait! Stop!.” I’m even beginning to question things, to look at life differently. Morbid, I know. These are not thoughts I’m comfortable with.

But Mindfulness asks us to welcome our emotions, to accept how we’re feeling. Not to pretend, not to hold it all in; which is everything I’ve been doing. So it’s only right that I should begin to purge. So that I can see the thoughts and feelings that I’m struggling with and give them a channel of expression. It’s only by allowing these feelings to flow that I’ll allow myself to move forward.

Mindfulness also asks us to be kind to ourselves. To nurture ourselves and practice feelings of loving kindness to ourselves and others. But boy can it be hard to feel loving when you’re in the midst of grief. Bitterness and anger easily set in. But that’s okay. Go easy on yourself. It’s all part of the grieving process.

I’ve noticed how addictive it can also be to get lost in our thoughts during this time. So anything that gets us back in our bodies, focused and present, can ease us through difficult periods.

That explains why I’ve been immersing myself in crafts lately. Night times are often when my mind turns to overthinking and sadness, so instead of getting consumed by thinking, I lay out my crafts, sit and create. Just flowing, just breathing.

There’s no quick fix for grief. It’s an ongoing process with ups and down that we as humans must flow with. We all experience it in some way, one day. We are therefore all united in our grief and in our love too.

And isn’t that what Mindfulness really is about? Remembering we are all here to love, to forgive, and to simply be together.

It’s the conversations we have, the way we make others feel and the little, thoughtful things we do that are everlasting. The values. The love. They’re what people remember when they lose someone, and they’re what are most missed.

A quote I read today said very aptly that grief is, after all, just the price we pay for love. And in an odd little way, it’s really helped me. I don’t mind missing my loved ones now, because all that the tears do is show how much they meant to me. If I didn’t love and treasure them, I wouldn’t feel their loss as deeply. So in a way, that’s a real honour.

So when I turn to my sitting meditation practice and I feel the dreaded grief and loss within me, I’ll look a bit deeper. Because within all loss is real love and it is this certainty of love that will carry me through the loss.
Thanks for reading.
  
-Written to honour the anniversary of the most beautiful couple. Dearly missed but very dearly loved. 
 
 
 
 

Deaf prejudice in 2016

  

I’ve been working on a pretty exciting project this week. It’s mainstream with an enormous audience and its main focus is all about demonstrating that deaf people can do anything. 

It’s an idea that’s been around for a while and that I thought was starting to get a bit old hat. Of course deaf people can do anything! We are already breaking barriers, challenging perceptions and working in the mainstream arts. 

But upon returning home I came across perhaps the most prejudiced man I have ever met. 

I’ve seen this man quite often over the past year but he’s never spoken. His wife also kept herself to herself and I began to think maybe they were just the quiet type…

But then, certain circumstances meant we crossed paths and the bloke reluctantly and with many pauses approached me.

It turned out he had avoided speaking for the past year as he had noticed I was deaf and then – to add insult to injury – stated that he felt sorry for me as I must have lots of problems. 

Even with my polite but firm response he went on to add how deaf people with hearing children must struggle with parenting skills and that the children must run riot because of our inability to hear. 

I was astounded. 

Every word that came out of this mans mouth was seeped in prejudice, assumption and ignorance. 

I informed him that as he had never encountered deafness before and had certainly not got to know me, he had a completely wrong idea of what life was like for me and my family. 

He mentioned other prejudiced concepts such as how people never get married before children nowadays, which – in his eyes – is the ‘wrong way round’ and I realised that whatever I said to this man would have no chance of entering his closed mind and therefore there was no point in wasting my time arguing. 

I concluded by telling him how I felt his views and behaviours were actually very sad and although I was outraged, shocked and hurt, I held my head high and walked off – dignity intact. 

Even now I still can’t believe that these views actually still exist when deafness, disability and uniqueness are more widely seen. 

That was my downfall though – assuming that things had changed enough for differences to be understood and for prejudice to dissolve altogether. 

This man certainly would never believe what I’ve done with my life, what I do, and with an attitude like his he will never know. 

So that was an enormous lesson learnt for me – the projects that aim to banish misconceptions and show deafness in a positive light are absolutely necessary and very much appropriate. 

And just in case you didn’t know – deaf people can do anything. Just let us show you 😉