Grief can be a daunting and overwhelming experience that leaves us feeling lost and alone. Although no two experiences of grief are the same, there are many strategies and methods that can help provide calmness and clarity during a difficult time. Cadence’s Partnerships Manager and Grief Embodiment Coach, Hannah, emphasizes the importance of giving yourself space to feel the heavy emotions that come with grief. Through the discussion of various tools, insights, and guiding principles, her expertise will help support readers as they navigate through their own unique grief journey.
Hannah has always had an empathetic approach to life and an internal drive to help others. Following the passing of her mother at an early age, Hannah turned toward coping mechanisms such as yoga that have guided her toward resiliency. She recognizes that grief is often a taboo and uncomfortable topic, but believes that creating a space to feel and express your emotions is the first step towards reaching a state of peace.
Hannah’s goal as a grief coach is to meet clients where they are in their grief journey– whether it's a recent loss or years have passed. By working with a grief coach, clients are able to access support during an isolating time while learning how to become familiar with their feelings. Providing clients with day-to-day practical tools not only allows for grief to become easier to address, but also increases the long-term manageability of the experience.
The following content is derived from an interview with Hannah.
Traditionally speaking, the 5 stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, it’s important to note that these stages are often misinterpreted as a universal and sequential experience. Hannah explains that healing is non-linear, meaning that there is no need to panic if stages are not completed in order or never completed at all. Grief is an individual experience without a clear path, it’s incomparable and cannot be generalized.
In a more accurate approach, Hannah sees grief as consisting of two broader stages, with much nuance in between. The acute stage begins right after a loss and may last up to one or two years following the passing of a loved one. Whereas, long term grief will exist after the acute stage and be integrated into one’s life forever. No matter the exact timeline, it is vital that those grieving give themselves permission to do so. By letting yourself feel the density of grief and by creating your own meaning around the loss, it will be easier to process and reach a point of acceptance and integration overtime.
Those grieving may want to escape their grief as soon as possible, but rushing through the process can lead to a more difficult journey to closure down the road. Through her experience, Hannah emphasizes that the only way out of grief is through it. The sooner you begin to feel your grief, the sooner you will be able to process it.
When grief begins to feel overwhelming, Hannah recommends you try implementing the following strategies to restore peace of mind and encourage clarity:
The 4-7-8 breathing method can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, digest, repair side of the nervous system), where it becomes easier to feel a sense of calm. To practice this breath pattern, inhale for four seconds through the nose, hold your breath for seven seconds, and gradually exhale through the mouth for eight seconds.
While it can be challenging to become more aware of your emotions, it's important to keep in mind that it's a process. The initial shock can often make it difficult to connect with your feelings, but it can be helpful to talk through your emotions with someone you trust, or watch a sad movie to allow the emotion to be released. Sharing about what you are going through can alleviate feelings of isolation and allow you to be supported. You may be feeling anger, joy, regret, shock, heartbreak and/or peace; remember that everyone's journey is unique and there is no right or wrong way to experience grief.
Regardless of where you are in your grief journey, it’s important to focus on the present moment and take your grief one day at a time or even one minute at a time. Some days it may be overwhelming to return to life as usual; taking time away from work or implementing healthy distractions may be beneficial in restoring a state of wellbeing. Many people find that connecting with nature helps provide comfort as Earth’s seasonal shifts are representative of those between life and death. No matter the case, prioritizing your individual needs is key to perseverance through grief.
Balancing executor duties and the loss of a loved one can feel like an overwhelming and lonely task. Cognitive function is affected while grieving making the executor process even more difficult. Asking for help and handing-off tasks to others is crucial to avoid frustration and overwhelm. With Cadence’s Executor Assistant, executors are supported along the way through step-by-step tasks and access to a trained expert. With a flexible timeline and user-friendly interface designed to help executors prioritize their mental health, Cadence is able to provide a sense of calm to the chaotic feelings that arise during the grieving process.
Grief is a unique and ever changing journey that must be taken slowly and with care. It's essential that those grieving be gentle with themselves and take care of their mental health, whether that is through embodiment practices, being open about their emotions, or by taking time to connect with themselves and their family or friends. With guidance from a grief coach such as Hannah, and the help of Cadence’s Executor Assistant, executors can be assured that grief is a journey that can be navigated with greater ease and a sense of necessary support.
Interview with Hannah Mason, Grief Embodiment Coach