How Mindfulness can Help us cope with grief, anxiety, fear and more.
By Elizabeth (Liz) Scarlett, Hospice Outreach Committee Member
My father died in 1969 at age 59. I was in my mid-twenties, married and had just started a career in teaching. I was able to spend a month with him a few months before he died. He had pancreatic cancer and was approaching end of life.
At that time, end of life issues were not generally openly discussed. In one of our conversations, my father asked me if there was anything he could give to me; I replied, “peace of mind.” His response was, “I can’t give that to you. You have to do that for yourself.”
He planted the seed that while I couldn’t always control what was happening around me, I could, in fact, determine and control my responses to what happens to me and I have carried his words with me throughout my life.
Slowly, I acquired mindfulness/meditation skills to work with my mind to create a sense of being calm and grounded. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Being mindful is what it sounds like. Taking time to focus on the present, being intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Trying to center your thoughts and be in the moment.
These skills have carried me through many difficult times over the years. I am now using them to work with the fear and anxiety that stems from the COVID-19 health crisis and the many uncertainties that come from it. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will last or what things will be like when it’s over. One thing we do know, however, is that worrying about it won’t change the outcome. Learning how to tolerate the uncertainty is a huge part of building healthy coping skills
I am sharing some of these skills in the hopes that they help others navigate their way through this new and unknown territory.
Find Resources on Mindfulness Here:Mindfulness resource list