Breathe. Just breathe.
It seems silly to have to remind myself to breathe. After all, isn’t it something I should just do naturally without having to think about it? But still, I find myself saying those words many times a day.
Breathe. Take a deep breath.
When I start to worry about what is coming up in my life, I have to say those words. When I feel overwhelmed with grief, sadness or fear, I have to say those words.
Breathe. Slowly, in and out.
After my friend died unexpectedly when we were in our late 20s, I had to check in with myself often to make sure I was breathing deeply. Often times I wasn’t. So again, I repeated those words.
Breathe. Deeply and slowly.
When my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, I had to remind myself often to take deep breaths and stay in the present, don’t think too much about the future or the lack of future with him.
When he was put on hospice and when he went in to a coma, I seemed to be telling myself to breathe every minute. I was scared and it seemed that if I didn’t breathe I wouldn’t be so scared, I wouldn’t cry.
Breathe. In through the top of my head and out of my toes.
When I watched him die and said my last good-bye, I thought I would never be able to breathe deeply again and feel the peace and calm that comes with that. It took several years before I realized that I could breathe and feel comfort.
Breathe. Breathe in light and warmth, breathe out the fear and sadness.
When I walk with others’ on their grief journey, I remind them to breathe. It seems so simple, so basic, but it’s something we all forget to do. Something about breathing deeply scares us. Maybe because we know we will feel more, be more in the moment and sometimes that is not the place we want to be.
Breathe. Stay in the moment; be aware of your body sensations.
If you do nothing else at this point in your grief journey, remember to breathe. Sometimes that is all we have energy to do. Breathing is a gift we can all give to ourselves and we don’t need any special training or any extra time.
Sharon R. Stoffel, MS, LCSW, LPC