Practicing Self-Compassion While Grieving

Jul 5, 2023

Nikki Scott, Angela Hospice Grief Care Counselor, DSW, LMSW, CAGCS, C.B.T.

It’s normal if you haven’t heard the terms “self-compassion” or “self-kindness” before. Most humans are hardwired to be self-critical or self-deprecating instead of kind to themselves. However, practicing self-compassion and self-kindness is essential for us and our overall
wellness, especially while grieving.

Although originally rooted in Buddhism, Dr. Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org) has been a pioneer in the study of self-compassion for decades. To put it simply, self compassion is the process of turning compassion inward. Self-compassion is thinking about how you would speak kindly to a friend, and then speaking to yourself the same way. Self-compassion is choosing to be kind and understanding to ourselves rather than self-critical. Research has shown that practicing self-compassion is one of the most powerful coping mechanisms we can use. It’s also a source of coping that we can apply when we are grieving.

One of the key points that Dr. Neff makes about self-compassion is common humanity. When we view our individual experiences (and losses) as being part of the broader human experience, we practice common humanity. Part of this includes accepting and forgiving ourselves for our flaws, mistakes, regrets, and guilt, especially during grief. We all make mistakes and we all grieve. We are all connected.

Imagine a dear friend just lost someone or something incredibly special to him or her. Think about how you would respond to your friend. Would you tell her that it’s been long enough, and it’s time to get over it? Or would you tell her that you are deeply sorry for her loss and you are thinking of her during this tough time? Would you offer her empathy, compassion, and kindness?

You likely would. Now think about what it would look and feel like to turn the compassion you offered your friend inwardly. How does it feel to be nice to yourself, especially after a loss? How does it feel to show yourself the same empathy you show others?

During heavy and light seasons of life, it’s important to practice self-compassion. It’s essential to our overall happiness and well-being. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s okay – remember that it’s a practice, so it will take time to master. Please remember that you are worthy of the compassion and kindness that you show others.

OUR FREE GRIEF CARE PROGRAMS:

While feelings of grief are normal, handling them can be difficult and painful. Talking about what you are going through can help. Call 734.779.6690 to schedule an appointment, and visit www.askforangela.com to check out our grief support calendar with a detailed listing of upcoming support groups.

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