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Escaping Emotional Pain with Meditation

Escaping Emotional Pain with Meditation | After the Heartbreak
Escaping Emotional Pain with Meditation

I will not be recommending that you need to sit on a special mat on the floor, or have to cross your legs in an un-natural way, or send yourself into a trance or need to repeat “Ommmm” over and over again. That’s for serious meditation people who wear flowing clothes and probably eat raw food. 😀

OK, that’s unfairly over-generalising and I don’t mean to label anyone in a negative way. I just need to make it clear that I didn’t start to meditate because I was looking for enlightenment or because I was pursuing a healthier lifestyle. I began to meditate on the day my husband was killed in a tragic accident, because it helped me survive.

Read: The Day My Heart Broke

The Police had been, friends had been around to try and comfort me, but it was midnight on that first night….and I was alone in the middle of what felt like a living nightmare. I couldn’t cry…not sure why but somehow it was too overwhelming for something as mundane as crying. I lay on the bed with my eyes closed, trying to stop the thoughts zig-zagging through my exhausted mind but knowing that I could not sleep.


I got up to get a sleeping tablet. I had them in the bathroom because I can’t sleep on planes, but rarely took them otherwise. I thought this was a good reason. Did I think about taking all of them? To be honest, yes, the thought did cross my mind but my two daughters were rushing to get to me and were flying in the next day. I couldn’t do that to them.

The thoughts swirling around were relentless though, and I lay there almost comatose with fear and pain and grief so bad I felt I was breaking in two. Then I remembered an app I had downloaded onto my phone many months ago when I was on a mental health kick…Insight Timer (it’s free). I had used it once then but it’s something that needed to be a habit and my life felt too busy at the time.

This night though, I put in my earplugs, and started up the app. When the search box came up I just typed ‘grief’…and pressed Go. Up came a list of options but one stood out. It was called ‘Bringing Healing to Difficult Emotions’ (William Wood). If you don’t have the app you can listen to a snippet here.

I’m sure these meditations affect everyone differently and I won’t explain it in detail, except that it was a visualisation. A very gentle voice suggested that I locate my pain, take it out and look at it…then change it before putting it back. Sounds silly in broad daylight but it was what I needed at the time. Sometime during that first meditation I actually fell asleep, and the sleeping tablets kept me there until dawn.

I enjoyed the first 10 seconds of waking to a new day ….but then the surrealistic nightmare of knowing that my husband would never come home crashed in, leaving me gasping for air and shaking violently. I reached for the phone again and found another meditation.

It helped me to ride that first wave of raw realisation and calmed the shaking. I think having to focus and concentrate gave my brain a purpose…a direction. Left to it’s own devices it was zooming down all sorts of scary alleyways but the mediation helped me to gain some control. It didn’t take the pain away as nothing could do that, but it helped me to cope with it and ride through it when the waves of trauma where at their worst.

As I write this it is now 17 months since my husband died and I still meditate at least once a day. I guess by now it is a habit but it is also something that does me good, and for different reasons.

“If you are grieving the death of someone you care for deeply, you know first hand that grief is not something you can “fix” or make “go away.”…
But what you can do is cultivate compassion for yourself, learn how to control the things you can (your attention, for one), and learn how to take care of yourself given the reality of the situation.”

Can Meditation Help with Grief

I meditate every morning after finishing that first coffee of the day. 🙂 I still prefer a guided meditation so look for a short one that will get the new day started. Something that energises me, makes me grateful for what I have (instead of focussing on what I have lost) and motivates me to get stuff done.

Then at night I have a bookmarked selection of ones that focus on gentle guidance to wind down, relax and get to sleep. It works 90% of the time and I haven’t taken sleeping tablets for months. Sometimes if I’m still awake…or if I wake and can’t get to sleep in the wee small hours, I put on a mediation that is just music, or the sounds of waves, or rain. As someone with a monkey mind at the best of times, anything which calms my brain is a good thing.

I’m still only using the free version of Insight Timer as there are so many on there (and new ones constantly go up) that I haven’t felt the need to look any further, even though I know there are many out there.

[Insight Timer has] ...the largest free library of guided meditations on earth with more than 15,000 titles.


By the way this is not an Affiliate link as I do not receive anything for recommending them, but I will anyway because I think having access to all those meditations helped me cope with the rawness of the early days and weeks and is now settled in as a good habit for my emotional health.

Do you meditate? I’d be interested to know your thoughts about it. 🙂 Please drop a comment below.

Marlene is an Australian widow who has written about all the good, bad and ugly stuff that happened after her husband Norbert died tragically. Marlene responds to all comments.

  • Sharon W says:

    It really does work, thanks for sharing. I join colleagues in the office twice a week to meditate and fit in a couple sessions at home outside of that. Years ago I had 3 bereavements in a row and totally shut down, didn’t allow myself to grieve, I wish I dealt with it differently now. Hope your blog is therapeutic for you. Fond regards, Sharon

    • Marlene says:

      Hi Sharon, thanks for your comment and encouragement. I am definitely a fan of meditation now and as a Type-A personality, I wish I’d persevered in the past as I may have avoided some of the stress. What a brilliant idea to have set times in the office when you can all share some quiet time together. We all wish we did things differently in the past, but we can only learn from it and move forward. All the best, Marlene

  • Gehvyn Stream says:

    I’ve meditated off and on in my life, I use the simple habit app on my phone in moments of quiet. I recently had a baby (August 2018) and life has been insanely busy so meditating has been less frequent. But in times of stress, or when I’m exhausted and at my wits end. Meditation has been a wonderful practice to keep me grounded. Your website is beautiful, and I can’t wait to hear and see how writing about all of this helps further your healing.

    • Marlene says:

      Thanks for your comment Gehvyn, and also thanks for the kind words about my website. I will keep posting and we will see where it ends up. 🙂
      Cheers, Marlene

  • Denise says:

    Meditation has help me. I am not as stresswd as I use to be.

  • Carole Dobson says:

    Hello Marlene. We have never met but my friend Lee is your friend as well. You and Norbert came to my house in Hervey Bay to collect some items to take back to the Whitsundays for FFF. You were on holiday and had been over on Fraser Island. I was absolutely shocked when I read about the plane crash and I still see photo’s occasionally of ‘the ladies lunches’. I’m glad you have good friends. May I say that I think you are amazing to share your methods to help yourself to cope and to go on without Norberts physical presence. I installed that App myself and like you I do better with a guided meditation most of the time. I might try one after coffee in the morning because I do have trouble waking up full of enthusiasm, mine tends to be a slow and heavy limbed crawl through wet mud to wakefulness. I have also noticed that I’ve gotten better at relaxing into meditation and the often elusive sleep, but it is something that required me to learn patience with myself and keep trying. I had a tendency to tell myself that I was failing meditation until I came out of one without realising that I’d been in it……..that was the day I had my first healing.

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