Holistic Options to Help With Grief

Holistic Options for Widows to Help with Grief

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Short and Sweet Summary: The experience of widowhood is complex and holistic options to help with grief may provide some much-needed relief. From yoga to acupuncture, here are eight ways to assess which holistic alternative might be right for you.

Grief is a natural response to loss, but, damn, it’s hard to cope with on your own.

What are you supposed to do when your grief gets to be too hard to handle?

When you need an outlet but don’t feel like self-medicating, shopping or sipping any more Pinot Noir, consider a holistic approach to grief management.

A holistic approach means providing support for the whole person, not just your emotional/mental health needs. The definition of holistic is “dealing with the whole” so a holistic practitioner is interested in a person’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. In other words, they address problems by looking at your entire self.

The good news is holistic options for widows dealing with grief are becoming more mainstream and less woo-woo. Most people won’t look at you sideways if you say you’re getting a Reiki treatment or that you’re practicing mindful meditation. And those who do? Well, maybe you can educate them about the benefits of these alternative modalities so they’re less judgmental 😁.

In this blog post, I’ll share some of the different holistic options that are available to you, and how they can help you move through your grief process. I’ve used every single suggestion listed here except for Reiki, which is high on my list of “things I need to do.”

REIKI

Reiki is an energy healing practice that involves the practitioner placing her hands on or above your body and guiding energy throughout your body to promote your self-healing abilities. The definition of Reiki is “universal life force” and the Reiki practitioner’s hands act as a channel for healing energy. During a session, you lie on a massage table fully clothed, as your reiki practitioner gently places their hands, palms down, on or just above your body in specific energy locations. They use a series of 12 to 15 different hand positions depending on your current energy flow.

Reiki can help with a wide variety of ailments, including grief, because it promotes healing by unblocking your energy passageways and strengthening your body’s natural ability to heal itself. It’s important to note that Reiki is not meant as a replacement for medical care; you should use it alongside consultations with your doctor or psychotherapist.

A typical session last about 50 minutes. You can schedule in-person treatments if you can find a Reiki practitioner near you, but you can also book sessions from a distance. Reiki practitioners can send Reiki energy to anyone by simply directing thoughts and energy to that person, so it doesn’t matter if you take part in an in-person session or not.

Pros

  • accelerates healing in the body
  • promotes spiritual growth
  • clears toxins
  • releases tension

Cons

  • cost and time
  • healing takes place over a series of sessions (usually between 3-5)

EFT TAPPING

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping is another popular healing technique that may help with your grief. EFT Tapping is a form of acupressure therapy where you tap on specific meridian points in your body to release negative energy and process emotions like sadness, anger, or frustration. It’s a great tool for helping you regulate your feelings because, according to The Tapping Solution, “Tapping on meridian points sends a calming signal to the brain, letting your brain know it’s safe to relax.” The idea behind EFT tapping is that the more you release, the less power these negative emotions will have over you.

I can attest to the benefits of tapping becuase I use the Tapping Solution app when I need to process heightened emotions and bring my anxiety level down a notch or two. It really works!

Learn more about what tapping is and how you can use it here.

Pros

  • clears the mind
  • lowers cortisol levels
  • reduces joint and muscle pain
  • releases tension

Cons

  • remembering to practice consistently
  • having patience with yourself as you learn to master the technique

MEDITATION

Meditation can help you calm your mind and reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on your breath to reduce the negative thoughts that can creep into your mind. You can use meditation to help get control over all your feelings because when you focus on your breathing, instead of your concerns, you’re able to calm yourself and get a better grip on what’s bothering you. By focusing on deep, slow breaths, you can relax as much as possible. This will help you to stay in the moment, which can be difficult when you’re grieving.

Pros

  • improve mental well-being
  • lowers blood pressure
  • lowers stress hormones
  • ability to focus on present moment
  • breaks negative thought loops

Cons

  • sitting still for an extended period of time
  • focusing on the breath
  • not getting lost in thought
  • time commitment
  • need to be comfortable with silences

MASSAGE

Massage is a popular holistic option because its primary focus is on physical touch and connection. Getting the knots worked out of your back, neck or shoulders not only feels amazing but it can also help improve circulation and reduce pain. You know what happens when you reduce pain? Your mood and energy levels increase because you’re more calm. Many people find massage to be helpful when coping with grief because it provides a space for you to simply relax and feel supported.

Pros

  • increases relaxation
  • reduces muscle pain
  • improves circulation
  • lowers blood pressure

Cons

  • cost
  • find a suitable massage therapist
  • awkward environment
  • lingering pain if pressure too intense

YOGA

Yoga is another holistic option that can be helpful for grief. When you use yoga to help connect the body and mind, it promotes a sense of peace and well-being. It also helps to increase flexibility and strength, which can be beneficial when coping with the physical challenges of grief. Chances are you’re a tense mess and the flexibility you gain from practicing yoga cannot be understated.

When you connect with your breath and body, it is thought that your mind will begin to calm as well.

Pros

  • improves breathing
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves sleep quality
  • increases flexibility

Cons

  • cost
  • finding suitable classes/instructor
  • practice takes time to build
  • need a consistent schedule to reap benefits

ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture is an ancient practice that uses tiny needles to stimulate specific points in the meridian system which is thought to harmonize your energy flow. The point is to help clear any blockages in the energy pathways, leading to a more balanced and peaceful state of mind and body. The needles are left in place for a specific amount of time and then removed.

Acupuncture can be beneficial for widows because it treats symptoms like anxiety, grief, depression, and pain that can accompany grief. The way acupuncture works is still being studied, but it is thought that by balancing the body’s energy flow, acupuncture can help improve a person’s mood and overall well-being.

Pros

  • improves mood
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • increases energy
  • improves sleep quality

Cons

  • cost
  • finding a qualified practitioner
  • soreness at insertion points

WALKING OUTSIDE

Walking might not be considered “holistic” but it has benefits that address the “whole self” so we’re going with it. When you’re walking in nature and taking in the scenery, it can be very grounding. The healing power of the outdoors provides you with a sense of peace when you are feeling overwhelmed by your grief. And, not only are you burning calories and strengthening your muscles and joints, you’re getting outside in the fresh air and soaking up some beneficial Vitamin D.

Pros

  • improves mood
  • improves cardiovascular fitness
  • boosts energy levels
  • clears the mind
  • helps to maintain weight
  • improves sleep quality

Cons

  • finding suitable shoes
  • sore muscles
  • inclement weather
  • limited paths or trails

JOURNALING

Journaling is also a great holistic practice because it connects you with your thoughts and feelings when you don’t have anyone else to talk to. When you get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you can clear up some of the mental fog you may feel when grieving. I know for me, when I review my journal entries, I’m able to identify patterns in my thoughts, actions and behaviors I wouldn’t notice otherwise. This is really helpful because it allows you to become more aware of how you respond to certain situations. For example, if you withdraw when experiencing conflict with others, your journal entries might reveal that pattern.

The primary goal is to make sense of your thoughts and feelings, not to produce perfect prose.

Pros

  • improves mental clarity
  • decreases stress levels
  • improves sleep quality
  • increases self-awareness

Cons

  • becoming too self-critical
  • living too much in your head
  • obsessing over journaling tools

Widow Wrap Up

Widows have a lot of choices when it comes to dealing with your grief. Some of you may choose traditional routes like therapy or support groups, while others might prefer holistic options like Reiki or meditation.

The important thing is that widows should do what feels best for them and not let anyone else tell them what they “should” be doing. Don’t be afraid to try something new in your healing journey. You never know what kind of connection you’ll have with a new holistic approach.

You get to decide what’s best for you!

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2 Comments

  1. This email came just in time. I am in the second year of widowhood & have been feeling anxious & angry lately. For some reason in my head, I told myself that after the first year & would be better. What was I thinking! I am doing a few of the things from your list, and that has certainly helped.🙏🏼😎

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