Dealing With the Hard “What Ifs”

by | Sep 29, 2015 | Taming Your Inner Critic | 0 comments

fotolia ©

fotolia ©

Here’s a topic most of us would probably prefer not to talk about – grief and loss. We all experience loss at one time or another –and I believe that how we deal with our grief affects our ability to connect deeply with our life purpose. My loss came four years ago when my son was killed driving a mountain road he knew well.

I’ve written about how I dealt with this devastating loss in my new book, Walking in Grace with Grief Meditations for Healing After Loss that’s being featured in this month’s Book Section.

As I learned through my grief process, the “what ifs” – the stories of a life unlived – caused me the most pain. That’s when I experienced a wave of sadness full of self-pity, agony, and despair.  So every time my thoughts wandered to the what-if-my-son-had-lived stories, I pulled myself back. I literally would not allow myself to experience those thoughts. I forced myself to think of something else—to remember a time from the past when he made me laugh, or to remember his voice or his smell. Anything but a what-if-he’d-lived story. This took energy and effort, but I think it made the difference in how I healed. I shifted the thought and experienced my sorrow in a different vibration. It was a higher, cleaner vibration—a healing vibration full of love and mercy. This vibration felt full of acceptance, kindness, and gentleness. I knew that if I could stay in this vibration—if I could surround myself with thoughts and feelings that resonated there—I could heal this deep wound.

In the following meditation from Walking in Grace with Grief, I use a technique called Blowing Up a Rose to keep the thoughts of what might have been from taking root in my body and mind. Because this meditation is so soothing, I’m sharing it with you to practice whenever you feel your dreams, and life, have been shattered.

Healing Meditation: Blowing Up a Rose

  1. Close your eyes and take some deep, cleansing breaths. On the inhale, bring all of your awareness into your body. On the exhale, ground to the earth. Inhale and center, exhale and ground. Breathe deeply as you focus on the present moment, right here, right now. Leave all your to-do list thoughts behind. Allow yourself to feel at peace.
  2. Now think of a story that is no longer true for you. Perhaps you’ll think about the story of how your child will marry and have children. Maybe you have told yourself stories of a retirement planned with your life partner. You can acknowledge the story has always been that, just a story. It was your fantasy about what you wanted to happen.
  3. As you continue to think about the story of what might have been, and now will no longer be, imagine the image of a rose appearing in front of your closed eyes. The rose can be any
    fotolia © gorkos

    fotolia © gorkos

    color, any shape, and any size. In this rose is a giant magnet pointing back to you.

  4. Ask the magnet in the rose to draw your story to it. Watch as each piece of your story leaves your body and moves into the rose. Watch the streams of color as they leave your heart, your throat, and your mind and move into the petals. Look at the rose grow bigger and bigger as the story takes up residence in the flower.
  5. Feel the emotions you’ve attached to this story leave your body and flow into the rose. Allow self-pity to leave. Allow the deep emotional pain of a story that won’t come true to leave your body and flow into the rose. Feel the sadness, the deep sorrow of loss, without the despair and hopelessness.
  6. When you’ve collected as much of that old story as you can, then blow up the rose. Watch it disintegrate and feel the story disintegrate too.
  7. Before you come out of meditation, fill your mind with thoughts of peace, tranquility, and serenity. Intend for those energies to surround you for the rest of the day.

Defusing the power of the story allows you to return to the present, the now, the current situation without the baggage of what could have been, should have been, or wasn’t meant to be. Releasing my old stories allowed me to look at my son’s death from a new perspective. It was not about what could have been. It’s about what is—right here, right now. I still felt the pain, but it was a pain of missing him right here, right now. It was not about all the future things that would not be.


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