5 Mindful Steps To Navigate Grief and Loss

grief healing Feb 14, 2024

I first experienced the extraordinary pain of grief 22 years ago, when I lost my boyfriend to gun violence. At that time, I had absolutely no tools to process the grief, the emotional pain, and the mental health side-effects that came with the trauma of his loss. 

Here we are, 22 years later, and I am happy and grateful to say that after so many years, I now have a "garage-full" of mindful tools and practices that help me navigate through grief. Over the years I have explored many ways to heal. From life-changing trauma coaching and therapy sessions, to reading a library of self-help books, and obtaining certifications in many modalities including meditation and somatic partitioning, I have learned that navigating grief takes many tools because grief takes on many forms.

Here, I share with you my 5 Mindful Ways to Navigate Grief and Loss. We follow the acronym of G.R.I.E.F. as our guide (and it makes it easy to remember the go-to practices when you need them most).

"G": Get Grounded in your Body

With grief, we get overwhelmed, we feel anxious, and we often disconnect from ourselves, making it very hard to be in the present moment. When these feeling arise for you, it is extremely helpful and calming for your nervous system to get grounded. How to get grounded?

One of my favorite ways to get grounded in my energy and reconnected to my mind and body is through a somatic breathing practice that engages the vagus nerve and naturally calms the nervous system. To do this calming and grounding breathing practice:

  • Begin be creating and even flow of your inhales and exhales.
  • Count to 4 with slow and deep inhales through your nose.
  • Hold your breath breath for 2 seconds at the top.
  • Exhale through your mouth also to the count of 4.
  • And again hold for 2 seconds.
  • Repeat this breathing rhythm until you feel a shift in your nervous system and become much more calm. This type of breathing stimulates your vagus nerve which communicates to your brain and body that you are safe to be calm, present, and to feel that grounded connection with yourself.

"R": Release Stored Emotions

When we experience loss and are going through grief, it can be difficult to process the many emotions that come with it. However, one of the best practices that you can do for yourself when grieving is to discover ways to give your emotions some space to be felt and released, in a healthy way. When we hold our emotions inside, cover them up, don't allow ourselves to feel them and release them, we our doing our minds, bodies, and hearts a disservice. The way to heal, is to move through grief. The way to move through it, is in bite-sized pieces of being present with what you are feeling, allow yourself to put words to it and really feel it. Once you do that you are releasing some of that energy you are holding, and that is healing. It allows you to once again realign with the present moment and to hopefully get some rest and self-care time that you need. 

To discover your personal emotional release language, make a list of the ways that you like to release energy and connect to your emotions. 

Some examples of emotional release languages are: Crying, writing and journaling, movement such as yoga or nature walking (or any kind of movement you enjoy), talking with a friend, creating, finding a supportive group, being alone and just thinking, meditating, resting, dancing, listening to music...

Once you make your list, the next time you feel the emotions of grief, turn to your list, choose something on it and allow yourself the space and time to feel and release.

I: Interoception with I AM

Our nervous systems can become dysregulated with trauma and when we are grieving. One of the senses that science is doing much more research on and is vital to how we feel and function is the 8th sense known as interocpetion. Interocpetion is how our bodies are able to connect and communicate with our brains about how we are feeling internally. For example, interoception is responsible for communicating that we are hungry, that we are cold or hot, and that we are not feeling well. 

When we grieve, we often disconnect from interoception and our personal needs suffer. That is why this step is so important in navigating grief. This is a somatic healing practice that I call "Interoception with I AM" and here are the steps:

  • Place your hands on your body. Starting with your lower abdomen, move through your chest and heart, and slowly end at the top of your head. Guide your breath and attention into each space.
  • In each part of your body, pause, and witness what you are feeling there. These could be physical sensations, emotions you are holding, or words that describe whatever comes to your mind. There are no right or wrong answers, the practice of connecting to your bodies internal sensations in healing in itself.
  • When an answer comes to your mind of how you are feeling (in any part of your body), say them out loud, Examples: "I AM feeling sad in my heart." "I AM feeling hungry in my stomach." "I AM feeling numb in my mind." "I AM feeling tired."
  • Solve the I AM (feeling) with an I AM (action step). After each I AM, state out loud what action step you are going to do for yourself. Examples: I AM feeling sad in my heart, so I AM going to let myself just breath for a while." "I AM feeling hungry in my stomach, so I AM going to get my favorite meal tonight." I AM feeling numb in my mind, so I AM going to watch a movie and get some rest." I AM feeling tired, so I AM going to take a bath and get some rest.

E: Energetic Alignment and Exchange

Setting healthy boundaries when navigating grief is essential to taking care of yourself. For this step, I have a simple practice I turn to that I create every morning. How to create a daily boundary setting check-In and writing practice:

  •  Draw a circle on a piece of paper and place a dot in the middle. This dot represents you. The circle is your self-protective boundary. The only elements allowed inside of this circle are the people, places, and practices that align with your energy, that will boost how you feel, and are nourishing and nurturing to you.
  • Write the names of any people that you are willing to let into your boundary inside of the circle today.
  • Write the self-care practices that you want to do that day inside of your boundary circle.
  • Write any places you want to visit today and any tasks that you want to complete (remember these have to align with your energy for the day, and not be depleting or draining.)

*Sometimes the only dot in that circle might be yourself, and that is entirely alright! Being protective of your energy when healing is a form of self-love.

Exchange is part two of this step and a mindful practice that I find to be incredibly uplifting, especially when hurting and grieving. It sounds almost out of balance, but in difficult times, it is healing to help others and to give. The Universal Law of Reciprocity says that the more you give, the more you get back, and I find this to be so true - sometimes in the most beautiful and surprising of ways. We don't give to get back, but somehow that is how it works. Try it out, give to someone today (a smile, a helping hand, a letter, a random act of kindness) and just see what happens!

F: Finding Signs

Signs come in many forms. And, when you are open to them, they have a delightful way of reminding you that you are supported, that you are not alone, and that the Universe (and spiritual world if that aligns with your beliefs) has your back. For this mindful step of navigating grief, there is a trusting and surrendering to your intuition and to the world around you for support, that you must embody. 

How to Find Signs:

  • Asking for a sign is the very first step! If you want a sign from someone that passed, say out loud that you want a sign. If you want a sign that you are on the right path, ask for it. If there is a specific sign that means something to you (an animal, song, symbol, sound, dream, a memory) bring that into your mind and ask to receive it.
  • As the signs come, celebrate them! Acknowledge what you see and feel. This is how you call in even more to come your way.


Click Here to listen to my 5 day course on How To Navigate Loss Through G.R.I.E.F. course on Insight Timer.

Email me for 1:1 coaching and group grief gatherings.



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