Grief and an open heart

May 9, 2010

Some of us react to loss by “shutting down”. We don’t feel we can bear the pain of grief, or we don’t want to risk loving and losing someone again. Rachel, whose comment is quoted below, feels her heart has been “shut for business” since she broke up with her ex four years ago. When she experienced an emotional release in the Opening the Heart meditation, however, she felt hope that she’ll eventually be able to move on and find someone new.

“I felt a significant release with tears when trying this meditation. I split with an ex over four years ago… I haven’t been able to move on at all romantically as I haven’t been able to let go of this past relationship. My heart shut for business to anyone else. I’m really hoping this meditation will eventually help me move on and find love again.”

Rachel has every reason to be hopeful now that she’s been able to start grieving the loss of her ex. If we can grieve a loss fully, feeling the pain all the way through, it leaves us with an open heart that can make new connections. It’s said that the only way through grief is straight into the heart of it. You have to fall into it completely. An open heart is one that can grieve. We can’t really feel love and joy if our hearts are closed to feeling pain. Grief is a natural process that allows us to let go of one relationship and let in another.

Life is full of losses, large and small. Large losses, like losing a  loved one, a job, moving, or falling ill, cause us to grieve. But so do smaller losses, losses that we might not even recognize as something to grieve. This really struck me yesterday as I was inhaling the wonderful fragrance of the jasmine flowers gracing my patio. Spring is my favorite season, and the return of the jasmine nourishes my being and brings me joy. But yesterday I noticed that almost all of the buds had already bloomed, and most of the lovely little flowers were on the decline. Lots of spent blossoms were at my feet. I felt as if I wanted to hold on to the jasmine forever, to never let it go. At some point I noticed a tight feeling in my heart. I felt that holding on feeling so clearly and sensed it as a tightening up against life. I felt I needed to let go and when I did, I felt grief. It was a surrender to the inevitability of loss that is part of the fabric of life. In that surrender I felt my heart relax and open. Though I felt sad, in that moment I felt fully alive. I was open to whatever might come next.

My sense is that we can’t let go and be truly open without feeling the pain of loss. What has your experience with this been?


23 Responses to “Grief and an open heart”

  1. Spencer Martin on May 10th, 2010 1:00 am

    Two years on I still think of her every day, every moment. But my lost love for the woman of my life has opened new doors and taken me to far higher places than I ever thought possible. I love her with every ounce of strength in my body and I now know true deep endless love for the first time which now encompasses everybody and everything around me.

    Through meditation I am still my my exlover; we spend time together each morning on a sandy beach and I also travel this world and spirit world.

    I know I will see my lover again in another life and treasure each moment of my current existence….we are all one of the same.

  2. Mary on May 10th, 2010 10:46 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Spencer!

  3. Emily on May 10th, 2010 11:09 am

    Dear Meditation Oasis,

    I had a similar experience to Rachel’s. In 2005, I had a boy break my heart, and I felt like I had lost everything. I had a hard time with future relationships, and it was always me who ended things because I always wanted to be in control. My ex came back into my life last year, and because I let him in with false hopes, it ruined a potential relationship I had with another person that I deeply cared about.

    After meditating on this, I realized that if I didn’t let my ex go, I could ruin future relationships with others. It took me over 4 years to realize that I was okay without him, and that if I keep my heart open, I will never be alone.

    With the help of your meditations as well, I learned how to embrace the feeling of loss and pain instead of resisting it. I realize that with pain and loss, I can learn and grow. If I resist it, I will not change.

    I have been meditating for a little over a year and a half now, and I can’t believe the transformation I’ve gone through. Thanks for a great podcast, it is truly inspiring.

  4. Mary on May 10th, 2010 1:34 pm

    Emily, this is so inspiring to read. Your statements are beautiful and ring so true to me. I love it when you say “if I keep my heart open, I will never be alone”. This is so profound – I’m going to put it on the Facebook page and quote you on Twitter! You are so very welcome.

  5. Simon on May 12th, 2010 5:47 am

    A couple of years ago I was training full-time to be pro tennis player, making good progress, until I suffered several injuries as a result of over-training. I tried to struggle on but only did further damage and had to give up altogether.

    This caused me to become very depressed for a long time as I felt as though I had lost everything, my sport had become my “identity” and without it there was no point to anything.

    Your podcasts have helped me along the way to help release some of the anger and grief I experienced and slowly but surely get my life back on track.

    Not quite the loss of a loved one or partner but still very painful and thought it would be valid to share here :)

    Thanks again for all your work

  6. Mary on May 12th, 2010 2:44 pm

    Absolutely valid to share this, Simon, and I’m so glad you did. Richard and I are moved that the podcast helped you through this. It is a HUGE loss and clearly would be very painful. We wish you the best.

  7. sophie on August 2nd, 2010 9:35 pm

    First, I agree that Simon’s greif is very valid, and is not any less significant than any persons experience.
    Also, I would like to share that this meditation helped me to identify lingering greif that I did not know existed. I had been identifying it as anger. My mother is an alcoholic and I have gone through the stages of greif to deal with the loss of what I wanted our relationship to be, what I had hoped for and needed so desperatley. I was surprised by my emotional reaction to the podcast. Thank you for helping me in this way, on the road to peace. :)

  8. Mary on August 3rd, 2010 9:38 am

    You are so welcome, sophie. It’s wonderful that you are open to this kind of healing experience…

  9. judith on August 11th, 2010 9:13 am

    after 48 years of marriage, my husband changed me for a “new model”, he’s 72 and his lover 20, can you imagine what I’ve been through? I was full with anger, anxiety, depression, but thanks to Meditation Oasis I’ve been able to get better every day, thanks

  10. Mary on August 11th, 2010 9:56 am

    You are welcome, Judith, and thank you for sharing your story. We send you our very best at this terribly difficult time.

  11. Bob on October 13th, 2010 4:31 am

    I find that suffering can make us closed up and cold, or it can force us to look inside, I think thats what pain does forces us to look inside our bodies and discover that most of the beliefs and attachments were not real. Suffering can help you be at peace if you totaly let go and do not resist.

    Nice site and article by the way.

  12. zeeshan ahmed on January 24th, 2011 5:11 am

    I am practicing of meditation daily, during the meditation I scan my whole body specially brain, initially when I used to meditate so I used to solve my problems, but last one month lot of different negative thinking are coming in my mind due to this I am victim of huge stress, I am not understanding that in this condition what should I do.
    Please tell me what is the main reason of my stress, is it being by meditation or any other reason.

  13. Mary on January 24th, 2011 9:38 am

    zeeshan, it’s impossible to say why you are feeling more stress now. There could be so many reasons and you’d really need to spend some time with someone, like a counselor, to find out what is happening. You can try listening to some of the meditations in the podcast (Listen to Our Podcast page) and see if that helps.

  14. Lynn on November 27th, 2011 8:55 am

    Thank you for your website and meditations. My mother died after a brief illness last month. Your website has helped me tremendously. It has helped me get back to sleep in the middle of the night when I wake up. I has helped me grieve and feel the heartache and love in my heart for my mom. It has helped to bring me peace during this painful time. Thank you so much.

  15. Mary on November 27th, 2011 9:56 am

    Lynn, you are so very welcome. I’m so glad you’ve been able to use the meditations with so much benefit. Your willingness to embrace your grief and stay connected to your love for your mom with such presence is inspiring. Wishing you well as you continue this journey.

  16. Geri Sue Sandor on December 6th, 2011 5:29 am

    Thank you for providing this meditation on grief. My brother passed on Nov. 27th, 2011 after a long battle with throat and tongue cancer. I had not seen him for over a year. We had a very difficult, volatile relationship, so grieving has been very emotional. I searched the web for a guided meditation and was very happy to come across your website and this meditation. So many thoughts come to mind and this meditation has helped me to calm them and to work through my grief. Thank you !

  17. Mary on December 6th, 2011 9:46 am

    Geri Sue, You are so welcome. I’m glad the meditation has been helping. I wish you well on the difficult journey of grieving the loss of your brother.

  18. Polly on October 14th, 2012 10:45 pm

    I’ve been feeling so low over the past few days and I didn’t really know why, but it wasn’t going away like it normally does. Just feeling that everything is wrong with me! Listening to this podcast helped me let some of the emotion out and just accept the emotion, not try to justify or analyze it.
    I really treasure your podcasts, they are saving my life. Thank you so much.

  19. Mary on October 15th, 2012 11:45 am

    Polly, it does seem that when we accept how we feel and let it be there without resistance, it allows the emotion to “flow through”. You are very welcome and thank you for your openness to our meditations. All the best.

  20. Jeffry on April 14th, 2013 6:57 am

    Thank You for this. I have been seeking out and trying different meditations to find one that will help me to get through a broken heart and move on. I’m not sure what will come from doing the open heart meditation. I did just do it and tears started rolling. It’s been about 10 months since my ex left me and just recently have been able to let a tear out here and there. This made them fall more freely than anything i have tried yet. Thank You.

  21. Mary on April 14th, 2013 9:12 am

    Jeffry, I am so glad the meditation is helping you grieve. Grief does take time and it’s great that you are giving yourself time and being open to go through it. You are welcome and I wish you well as you continue on this journey.

  22. suzanne zardenetta on October 16th, 2014 10:46 am

    I split from my ex husband in 2005, yes, almost 10 years ago. I recently asked him to stop calling and texting me that he loves me (he has been doing this for over 9 years) and he has a current girlfriend too! I think for the first time I realize that we are not getting back together and even though I dated and gave the small perception that I was moving on, I really was not. I always just assumed that we would end up back together. I am now ready to let go and hope to find love again with someone else,,, it is an unusual amount of time to be attached to someone, I realize that, but at least I am doing something about it now! rather than let another 10 years go by!

  23. Mary on October 16th, 2014 2:24 pm

    Time gone by doesn’t matter, Suzanne. What matters is now! And we need to grieve to be able to move on…

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