iRest for Grief
Death can be the most profound, transformative, and often the most difficult, experience of a person’s life – and it is life’s one inevitability.
Grieving the death of a loved one is a natural and healthy, even if painful, process. Each person’s journey is unique yet there are aspects of the grief process that are commonly shared.
What are some of the issues of people who are grieving a death?
Emotional: Numbness and shock; Confusion, restlessness and agitation; Intense emotions such as sadness, guilt, anger, resentment, shame, fear, helplessness and hopelessness; Feeling isolated and out of control; Dissatisfaction with life; Inability to experience pleasure; Impatience; Inability to stop crying; Needing to talk but concerned about being a burden to family and friends; Loneliness and isolation; Diminished interest in sex; Feeling overwhelmed; Loss of life’s purpose and meaning; Abrupt mood swings; Recurrence of past traumas and loss; Heightened dysfunction of unresolved family issues.
Intellectual: Inability to comprehend their loved one won’t return; Impairment of short term memory; Inability to concentrate, focus and make decisions; Feeling like they are “going crazy”; Fear they are doing something wrong and not measuring up; Inability to contemplate the future; Flashbacks of unsettling images and memories; Loss of intellectual curiosity and engagement.
Physical and Behavioral: Sleep disturbances; Exhaustion; Nervous tension; Changes in appetite; Increased aches, pains and other symptoms without apparent cause; Anxiety and panic attacks; Increased use and abuse of alcohol, drugs and prescription medications; Increased risk-taking.
Spiritual/Existential: Question the meaning of life and one’s place in it; Thoughts about one’s mortality; Anger at God; Feeling abandoned by God; Existential fear of facing a black eternal void; Unable to connect with a sense of spirituality, God or well-being; Unsettling paranormal experiences.
What additional issues confront the person who is dying?
Denial; Fear of increased pain and of the dying process; Anger at God or life; Hopelessness and, conversely, hopeful of a cure; Loss of human touch; Deep sorrow to be leaving loved ones; Existential fear of the unknown; Pain, nausea and other symptoms; Side effects of medications; Dismay, fear and grief at losing control of their body, decisions and life; Depression; Regret for things done and for things not done.
How can iRest support people who are dying, their caregivers, and those who are grieving the death of a loved one?
iRest offers a compassionate foundation and tools for people to explore, transform and integrate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual issues as they arise. Self-inquiry into the underlying nature of all experiences helps to resolve inner conflicts, unveiling an abiding sense of peace that is always present regardless of circumstances.
iRest can be a powerful complement to individual grief counseling, medical interventions and hospice care.
Many of my bereavement counseling clients have reported feeling calmer and more at choice regarding how they respond to grief and life's challenges, moment to moment, as a result of learning iRest - Hospice by the Bay Bereavement Counselor
iRest sessions for issues of grief are appropriate for facilitated groups as well as for individuals.
What happens during iRest sessions that can help with issues of grief and loss?
• iRest invites deep relaxation of the body and mind, calming the nervous system and facilitating the ability to concentrate and make decisions. Exhausted and sleep-deprived participants report that they feel better and are more able to deal with circumstances; they are able to sleep undisturbed for longer periods of time.
• Participants create an Inner Resource, an internalized safe place of comfort, ease and security, for times when strong emotions, images or memories threaten to overwhelm them. They can “step back”, take a time out and feel a sense of control.
• During iRest participants allow their deepest Heartfelt Desire, or deepest wish, to emerge and express itself. Phrased in the present tense as completely fulfilled in this moment, using all of the body’s senses, this powerful intention accesses health-producing processes in the brain, body and unconscious mind.
• Participants identify a short-term intention for each iRest session thus helping the mind to regain its ability to remain focused and undistracted. Attention is then available to inquire into the nature of their experiences.
• Guided by the facilitator, participants move their attention around their physical body noticing sensations at increasingly subtle levels. The body relaxes naturally and is perceived as the multi-dimensional field of vibration it truly is. Sensations are recognized as pointers to deeper underlying perceptions and innate wisdom.
• Attention is brought to the breath as pure physical sensation, opening up perceptions at increasingly subtle levels. Breath-counting trains the mind to become one-pointed, improving concentration, focus and the ability to make decisions and deal with life issues.
• Participants learn to observe and, gently and gradually, to feel the full spectrum of emotions, memories and beliefs as they arise. By becoming the “witness” of their experiences along with feeling them, people are able to be present with what is without becoming overwhelmed and unable to move forward in their life.
• In a deep state of relaxation, when the reactive mind is at rest, participants inquire about and resolve long-held self-limiting beliefs and conditioning.
• During iRest, sensations of relaxation, well-being, even happiness and joy, are felt, explored and invited to expand throughout the body benefiting the entire physiology including the respiratory, immune, central nervous and endocrine systems.
• As participants continue to relax, inquire and resolve long-held beliefs and conditioning, the mind’s habitual thought patterns such as “what if”, “if only”, “I should”, “I could”, “They should”… drop away and participants reconnect to an underlying peace of being that is always present regardless of circumstances.
• As the abiding peace of pure being is experienced - present even in the midst of surface disruptions - the appropriate response to any issue in life arises naturally.
• As the presence of pure being deepens, participants may come to know themselves as beingness itself, within which all experiences, sensations, emotions, thoughts and beliefs arise and fall away.
Spotlight on an Integrative Restoration (iRest) for Grief Program:
Hospice by the Bay
San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma Counties, California
For class dates go to www.hospicebythebay.org/support-groups.html.
To register call 415-526-5699
iRest teachers Cameron McKinley and Marylou Swift co-facilitate an 8-week class series called Integrative Restoration (iRest) for Grief. Participants include people who are grieving the death of a loved one as well as caregivers. The class is open to the public and not limited to families associated with Hospice by the Bay. Class size is limited.
In a safe nurturing environment, Cameron and Marylou introduce an aspect of the 10-step iRest protocol each week, building the meditation practice over the eight-week series.
An emphasis is placed on how participants can incorporate the practical and powerful tools of iRest into everyday life. Every session includes an approximately 35-minute guided iRest session. Self-practice CD’s and workbooks are included.
Because everyone in the class is dealing with issues of grief, participants appreciate the opportunity to connect deeply with others who understand what they are going through as they process the death, or impending death, of their loved one. Their sharing deepens both their personal process as well as their practice of iRest.
Marylou Swift is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with many years of experience working with groups and hospice clients. She also has a private therapy practice.
Cameron McKinley is an Interfaith Minister and a Grief Counselor for the Family Services Agency of Marin Co. She also offers alternative therapies to hospice patients of Hospice by the Bay and facilitates iRest with individuals and at a homeless shelter.