Taking Time to Process Loss

As many of you know, my father died at Christmas time. Since then I’ve been going about my business and doing what needs to be done (for the most part), but I’ve had trouble getting new projects off the ground. In fact, I’ve had a definite lack of enthusiasm and inability to initiate new ideas, and am just now starting to get excited about some of the things I’ve had on the back burner.

But as a yogi, this hasn’t worried me at all. Grieving is different for each of us. The time I’ve spent in yoga and meditation has taught me not to be afraid of death. This fact, combined with being able to spend my dad’s last week at his side, went a long way toward helping me to be present with him during his dying process and to accept his death as a natural part of the life cycle. Still, you don’t go through that as if nothing happened.

I found myself to be very tired for the first few months. Although I taught my classes and led our annual retreat in Costa Rica, I also spent an inordinate amount of time doing nothing. One day I watched a marathon of Ellen shows. Another day I took three naps. I let go of some new classes I was trying to start because I just didn’t have the energy for all the marketing and trying to get people interested, so I simply dropped them. Even my practice changed — I did more meditation and less asana. I needed the stillness. I was physically and mentally tired and this was my way of giving myself space to process the enormity of what had happened and to grieve for my dad. I needed some time just to be with myself and with everything as it was.

So often in this country we don’t allow ourselves time to sit with our feelings. We think we’re being lazy if we’re not continuously accomplishing something. We think we need to hurry up and push through our problems as if nothing should stop us. But we’re not really wired for that. That kind of behavior backfires and leads to chronic pain, chronic stress, insomnia, eating disorders, substance abuse, and a host of other troubles. When you need it, give yourself the gift of time. Just be. Just sit with whatever is going on without needing an immediate solution. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s time to move on. Stay attuned to your center — your spirit — and you’ll know when it’s time.

I’m now emerging from my cocoon, and my enthusiasm for a shelved project is starting to percolate, and I’m getting very excited about the upcoming Joyful Heart Yoga trip to Northern Spain. I don’t feel that I wasted any time. I followed the natural rhythm that I needed in order to be whole and stay present.

I still miss my dad, and now I worry more about my mom, but my yoga practice has given me the tools I need to cope. I wish everyone had those tools, and I’m making it my business to spread the word as much as I can.

2 thoughts on “Taking Time to Process Loss

  1. Mariette

    I am sorry to read about your dad. It’s difficult for the people left behind when a loved one has passed. You are right that you do have the tools to cope for yourself and your mom.

    I have enjoyed your website. Today is my first visit.

    Take care,

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