Coping with Loss: How Laughter Yoga can help in Grief and Bereavement
Losing someone or something you love is very painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve — but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including:
* A relationship breakup
* Loss of health
* Losing a job
* Loss of financial stability
* A miscarriage
* Death of a pet
* Loss of a cherished dream
* A loved one’s serious illness
* Loss of a friendship
* Loss of safety after a trauma
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, even subtle losses can lead to grief. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.
Everyone grieves differently
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Myths and Facts About Grief
MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.
Source: Center for Grief and Healing
How laughter yoga can help in Grieving and Bereavement
Coping with loss is an individual and complex process, encompassing a myriad of emotions and reactions. Grieving individuals might find themselves vacillating between sadness, anger, disbelief, and even numbness. In this time of emotional turmoil, laughter yoga can serve as a therapeutic tool to help navigate the complexities of grief and bereavement. Here’s how laughter yoga can help:
Laughter is a natural way to reduce stress levels. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, which can help to lessen the feelings of sadness and stress that often accompany loss.
Laughter yoga encourages deep breathing and stimulates circulation, which can help to ease physical tension and promote relaxation. The physical act of laughing can sometimes bring a momentary relief from the physical symptoms of grief, such as a tight chest or a heavy heart.
Connection and Community
Grieving can sometimes feel incredibly isolating. Laughter yoga, often done in groups, can provide a sense of community and connection, helping individuals to feel less alone in their grief.
Laughter has the ability to boost mood by increasing the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These "feel good" chemicals can provide temporary relief from the heavy burden of grief.
Facilitates Emotional Release
Laughter yoga can facilitate emotional release, helping individuals to express and release pent-up emotions, which can sometimes be stifled during the grieving process.
Engaging in laughter yoga can help to build resilience by encouraging a different perspective on life and loss. It can sometimes help individuals to find joy and lightness in the midst of darkness.
Laughter yoga promotes mindfulness by bringing individuals into the present moment. This can sometimes help to break the cycle of rumination that often accompanies grief.
Laughter yoga takes a holistic approach to healing, incorporating elements of body, mind, and spirit, which can be beneficial in addressing the complex nature of grief.
Implementing Laughter Yoga During Bereavement
Seeking Guidance from Trained Professionals: Before initiating a laughter yoga session, it might be beneficial to seek guidance from trained professionals who can tailor sessions according to individual needs.
Gentle Introduction: Initially, it might feel unnatural or forced to laugh during a period of grief. A gentle introduction to laughter yoga, acknowledging the gravity of loss while gradually introducing the concept of therapeutic laughter, can be a good approach.
Incorporating other Therapies: Laughter yoga can be incorporated into a broader therapeutic program, which might include counseling, meditation, or other forms of therapy to address various facets of grief.
Personal Reflection and Journaling: After a laughter yoga session, individuals might find it beneficial to reflect on their experience through journaling or personal reflection, to process their feelings and experiences in a deeper way.
Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment: Ensuring that the laughter yoga sessions are conducted in a safe and supportive environment, where individuals feel free to express themselves without judgment, is crucial.