One of the many, many things I have learned during my ambiguous grief experience, is that we truly captain our own emotions. If we want to feel better during times of loss, whether by death or by discovery, divorce or diagnosis, it’s up to us to make that happen. When I first started to examine the kind of twisted, nuanced grief I was feeling, peace wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Sure, peace was something I wanted, but quickly came to understand it isn’t simply “given”. It is created. It isn’t something we achieve by happenstance, or simply fall into and find. We curate peace daily, and we do so moment by moment in the choices that we make.
While I have yet to meet anyone in this experience who CHOSE ambiguous grief, I have met many who are choosing to work toward peace. I’m not talking about making peace with the living loved one that has been lost, or even coming to a state of peace about the activating event that brought on ambiguous grief. I’m talking about inner peace. That feeling deep within that isn’t derailed by external happenings. The deep contentment that lives at a cellular level and grows like the sunrise, with golden light, throughout our bodies.
I’ve also met those who aren’t there yet, but who are willing to be willing to one day start working toward their peace. And I get it, sometimes just acknowledging that you are willing to someday remove your resistance is the very first step.
So, how do we practice inner peace?
I believe by protecting our mind, body and soul we practice peace. The good news is that we can do this daily, moment by moment, by simply bringing awareness to our desire.
We are choosing to practice peace when we are discerning about :
- Who we spend time with.
- What we spend our time on.
- Where we focus our attention.
- When we make time for self-care.
- How we observe our thoughts.
In contrast, I’ve learned that we resist peace when we allow ourselves to get stuck in grief and (for me) get apathetic about our choices, and focus far too much on my own troubles instead of acting in service of others.
So when I find myself there, as I inevitably do, I examine my choices.
I’m not talking about the big and oftentimes daunting, life choices we have to make. (Where should I live? How much should I be saving? etc.)
No way! I’m talking about the teeny tiny ones (Do I want to have coffee with that person? Should I pray and meditate today? Should I share gossip?)
Because, as it turns out, it’s the itty bitty choices that build up to the big ones.
Hundreds (thousands?) of “little” choices each day. Choices to stop negative self-talk, or practice self-care. Choices to say no to spending time with people who don’t fill your cup. The choice to pray and meditate and follow your inner guidance, vs doing what you “think” you should do out of habit or societal pressure.
It’s the decisions to these choices that help us make clear our values and our priorities.
Then, the more we make choices that serve us, the more time we spend in that sweet spot of peace. AND THEN…. the magic happens.
Peace duplicates. It impacts those around you, and grows.
The more I’m at peace with who I am, the decisions I have made, and am crystal clear about my personal values, the less I am affected by the behaviors or others.
Grieving the loss of a loved one still living isn’t an experience I would ever categorize as “FUN”. It is, however an opportunity to go deeply within yourself, to examine oneself, and to seek to understand. To learn more than you ever wanted to know about your inner being, and define what (and who) helps you toward peace, and what (and who) doesn’t.
Curating your own inner peace isn’t easy work, but with so many wonderful resources available, it’s absolutely possible. Talk therapy, books, podcasts, workshops, spiritual teachers, and retreats are great ways to get support as you embark on your quest for inner peace. It’s yours for the making, so get at it!
Peace be with you.
(and if you don’t feel it today, keep trying until you do!)