It’s often understood that grief and loss, though painful and difficult to confront, are aspects of the overall human experience. The emotions that accompany grief can easily be overwhelming, impacting our lives and day-to-day routines. That said, grief is often responsible for enabling us to become stronger and more resilient. Many individuals have been able to reorient the direction and purpose of their life after experiencing loss.
Counsellors can rely on their professional skills and experience to help clients cope with the emotions and pain of loss in healthier ways. One notable method centers on mindfulness, which is typically viewed as the practice of being fully present in the moment—ultimately blocking distractions and other things happening around us (Mindful Communications, 2020). Read on to discover how mindfulness can be used to better manage your client’s grief.
Understanding How Mindfulness Impacts the Grieving Process
Confronting grief can be a difficult process. However, accepting the pain and being open to all of the emotions that accompany loss can lead to a positive healing journey. Practicing mindfulness during grief is a way to embrace this concept, facing reality in a non-judgmental and self-compassionate way (Pritchard, 2021).
Here, it’s important to remind your client that there is no correct way of grieving. You can suggest mindfulness as a way to manage and cope with difficult emotions—not as a way of solving or fixing them (Hubbard, 2021).
In fact, research has shown that mindful grieving has various benefits. According to this study, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has improved executive control as well as emotional regulation in grieving individuals (Huang et al., 2018). Participants also noted reductions in grief, as well as a reduction of difficulties in emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression in self-reported questionnaires. Another study shows that grief and depression symptoms were negatively correlated with mindfulness in 19 participants caring for loved ones with dementia (Jain et al., 2019).
Exploring Mindfulness Strategies after Earning Your Professional Counsellor Diploma
Meditation is a core aspect of mindfulness. In the context of grief, meditation can allow clients to experience all of their emotions and be present in the moment through a structured space. Here, it may be beneficial to recommend mindful breathing or walking as exercises that promote healthy healing. For example, mindful breathing can calm your client’s mind and body, reducing their stress and anxiety, while mindful walking allows them to break free from isolating habits and explore the rejuvenating nature around them (Pritchard, 2021).
When you become a counsellor, you’ll be in the unique position of guiding clients and improving their well-being. One notable strategy you can suggest is participating in loving-kindness meditation, which emphasizes self-compassion. This mindfulness strategy can be particularly effective for those who struggle with accepting loss (Pritchard, 2021). These strategies are designed to help clients acknowledge and confront their loss in healthy ways, ensuring that they become better able to accept and cope with the pain that comes with it.
Key Takeaways and Suggestions to Remember When Working with Grieving Clients
The grieving process is different for everyone, but being mindful and emphasizing self-compassion can be important steps towards acceptance. After completing your professional counsellor diploma, you can rely on your skills and expertise to encourage and support clients throughout this difficult time.
To help them manage their emotions and process their pain, you can recommend self-expression—such as journaling or art-making (Hubbard, 2021). You can also suggest participating in activities that commemorate the client’s loved ones, including volunteer work, giving to charity, or even meditating in their honour (Wolkin, 2021). Ultimately, it’s important to remind your grieving clients that they are not alone. Grief is universal and a natural part of the human experience. With your training, you’ll be able to make a meaningful difference in your client’s healing journey.
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Hubbard, A. (2021, July 9). Present Tense: 7 Mindfulness Strategies to Cope with Loss. Healthline. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mind-body/mindfulness-strategies-to-cope-with-loss.
Wolkin, J. (2021, January 15). 5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help Us Work Through Grief. Mindful. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/5-ways-mindfulness-can-help-us-work-through-grief/ (.
Pritchard, S. (2021). 3 Ways to Use Mindfulness During Your Grief. Hospice of the Red River Valley. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.hrrv.org/blog/3-ways-to-use-mindfulness-during-your-grief/.
Mindful Communications. (2020, July 8). What is mindfulness? Mindful. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/.
Huang, F. Y., Hsu, A. L., Hsu, L. M., Tsai, J. S., Huang, C. M., Chao, Y. P., Hwang, T. J., & Wu, C. W. (2019). Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 541. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00541
Jain, F. A., Connolly, C. G., Moore, L. C., Leuchter, A. F., Abrams, M., Ben-Yelles, R. W., Chang, S. E., Ramirez Gomez, L. A., Huey, N., Lavretsky, H., & Iacoboni, M. (2019). Grief, Mindfulness and Neural Predictors of Improvement in Family Dementia Caregivers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00155