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The bereaved and dealing with the grieving process

By Joseph Pond

Buddhism is sometimes viewed as very negative because of its emphasis on impermanence. The Buddha said that all life is suffering because everything ends, and our unwillingness to face that fact causes misery.

Yet positive aspects of impermanence are sometimes overlooked. Personally, I’m not a Buddhist, although Oriental religion was my major in university.

You don’t have to be Buddhist to practice mindfulness and yet the recognition that your thoughts and feeling are also impermanent offers a way to experience relief from them.

This mindset is one I hold every time I see a grieving client. Obviously, death is a direct reminder that nothing is permanent, but there is another positive reason why I like to focus on impermanence and change.

One client said that her grief weighed “heavy like a stone”. Another likened her grief to a “dark cloud that’s always there”. 

Simply put, grief feels permanent and unchanging. It’s there during the day, at night, and again in the morning.

However, I know that even something as seemingly fixed and constant as grief has a flow and flux. Hopefully this doesn’t apply to you, but if you are grieving for someone or something, I invite you to close your eyes. (After you finish reading this, of course!)

Allow yourself to feel the grief.  Notice where in the physical body you experience it. Where are you not grieving?

For example, it’s probably in your torso, but not in your toes.  See if you can find where it begins and ends.

What qualities does it have?  Does it feel heavy? Is it expanding or contracting? Is it rough or smooth?

Notice also what other emotions are present. There may be some relief or even guilt. As best as you can, tease apart the separate emotions.

“Grief” is a noun, but the experience of grieving is something you do. It’s a process.

Recognising this gives you more control over when and how to grieve. It takes about 20 minutes, twice a day, to have this effect. As always, write to me for a free mp3 to guide you through the meditation.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at or at

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