Dark years are often followed by intense personal growth. Sadder but wiser, you will find a way to reduce your suffering. At first in short bursts. Then for longer and longer periods of time. The grief-work you do will help you reengage with life after loss. Many of us will even live our lives more deliberately than before. Never forgetting our loved one, and with a deeper sense of our own life’s purpose.
Please read on if you are ready to use this difficult time to make a healthy lifestyle change.
It can be hard to imagine how to go on now that the worst has happened. Grief is rooted in love, and if you love deeply, you grieve deeply.
We know that there is not one way to work through grief. There are many things you can do to help yourself. Grief counseling. Grief support groups. Reading inspirational books. Self-care, self-care, self-care.
Of course sometimes it is hard to be your own guide, as grief zaps our energy.
Caring social support is particularly helpful after a major loss. You may have a strong family and friendship network that embraces you. Or you may not. But a supportive bereavement group can be a place to find your tribe when you are ready.
It is a way to connect with a caring community without leaving the comfort of your home, and a different but effective way to cope with grief.
This program is open to anyone—regardless of meditation experience. You do not need any previous meditation or writing experience to benefit from this program. In fact, this program will use your grief experience as a way to help you establish life-long, healthy lifestyle habits. The hallmark of meditation.
You may have tried grief counseling or grief support groups to cope with loss. Both can be very helpful. But if you are looking for something to do that will soothe your soul between the appointments and meetings, and that goes beyond just talking—try meditation.
Meditation empowers you to take care of yourself. And it can help with all facets of grief. Physical. Emotional. Psychological. Spiritual. It even helps with your relationship to others.
People have been seeking relief from suffering through meditation for thousands of years. Over the past decade, I have shared these ancient and evidence-based techniques with grieving people like you, and have witnessed transformation and equanimity countless times. There are many types of meditation practice can be helpful when you are grieving, but learning how and when to apply each one is the key.
These are the foundations of A Year of Mindfulness for Grief.
I came to Heather’s programme when I was floundering after the death of my partner. I bought many, many different books on grief and loss but this particular book has become my trusted companion. The programme has been my life jacket in a very stormy sea of grief. I am the person who ultimately has to swim and get back to land but having this programme has given me hope that I will get there, in my own time and with the help of Heather and my companions in the online sessions.
Access to the virtual materials and especially the weekly online meetings with Heather are invaluable. Twelve months after the death of my partner, I use the meditations regularly and refer back to the book often and as I need to; certain chapters chime with my changing situations and are an anchor.
My alumni group has become a precious focal point, being with people from 3 continents in a virtual environment of trust and respect is so very powerful. I can only speak for myself, but I am starting to live with my grief and be able to think about a future again. With gratitude and love to Heather and my group.
The first segment of the program will teach you how to care for your grieving mind and body through focus, relaxation, and self-compassion. You will return to these self-care tools again and again throughout the program.
You will experience your body as a powerful messenger and ally. Far from being a problem, discomfort in the body is a sign that something is out of balance. The key is learning how to respond to your body’s signals in a skillful and caring way so balance is restored.
This program is all about you. It is rooted in contemporary grief research, the principles of mindfulness, yoga therapy, and human-centered therapy developed by Carl Rogers.
These modalities nurture your inner wisdom and honor your individual experience.
If you are ready to embark on a journey that will help you cope with loss, and are ready to commit to a regular meditation practice, this program is for you.
Heather will lead all live sessions, answer your questions, provide insight, and offer clarity. If you can not make a live session, it will be recorded so you can watch it in your own time.
Creating your own practice is just as important as showing up for the live events. These resources will help you apply meditation to your life on your own schedule:
Grief has no time frame. Once the initial year has ended, you will receive an additional year of community support.
This is right for you if you are motivated and ready to commit to a meditation practice. Attendance is capped at 30 people.
This program is open to you if you are grieving the death of an important person in your life. Most participants will be at least 6 months into their grief experience. This is not a requirement if you feel you are ready to participate.
If you are under the care of a medical or mental health professional, please review this program with them prior to enrolling. If you have intrusive images, hallucinations, or may dissociate, meditation may not be a skillful choice. Heather is happy to have a confidential discussion to determine if this group is right for you.
A limited number of scholarships are available for people facing financial hardship. The number of scholarships will be based on the number of people who enroll as finances allow. Please contact Heather for more details.
Each month will explore a theme from Mindfulness & Grief, as well as other relevant or seasonal topics:
SEPTEMBER: Living with Intention: Tapping Into Your Deepest Longing. Take the first step towards receiving what you need and letting go of what no longer serves you.
OCTOBER: Conscious Relaxation: How to Care for Your Grieving Body. Release tension and steady your mind during uncertain times.
NOVEMBER: Grief During the Holidays: Navigating a Season of Expectations. Create a season of meaning and connection while consciously choosing what traditions to keep, create, change, or let go.
DECEMBER: Mindful Awareness: How to Find Refuge in the Present Moment. Use your breath and body as your safe harbor when you are overwhelmed or unsteadied by grief.
JANUARY: Self-Compassion: Applying The Oxygen Mask To Yourself. Become your own best friend using the three principles of self-compassion.
FEBRUARY: Compassion and Forgiveness: Attending to Grief with Loving-Kindness. Learn how to open a closed heart and engage the healing power of loving-kindness for others.
MARCH: Skillful Courage: The Dance of Strength and Vulnerability. Take control of what feels like an uncontrollable dance of grief as you move back and forth between hope and despair.
APRIL: Getting Unstuck: Tending to the Five Mental Hindrances. Meet resistance with curiosity and transform barriers into opportunities for personal growth and awakening.
MAY: Meaning Reconstruction: Learning to Live After Loss. Honor your loved one’s legacy while creating your own life’s journey and rebuilding your assumptive world.
JUNE: Allowing Transformation: Who Am I Now? will help you to rewrite your post-loss narrative and tap into the power of meaning-making in spite of uncertainty and change.
JULY: Silence is Golden: Creating the Space You Need to Thrive. Explore the power of silence in practice and daily life as you learn to savor things small and large.
AUGUST: Perpetual Mindfulness: Practicing Beyond Grief. Develop a relationship with your practice so that you can live your life with equanimity and transcend common “practice pitfalls.”
Heather is the author of Mindfulness & Grief, the host of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, and a contributor to Techniques of Grief Therapy: Assessment & Intervention, edited by the esteemed grief therapist Dr. Bob Neimeyer. Heather is on the Advisory Board for T*A*P*S (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors of Military Loss), and contributes to T*A*P*S Magazine.
Heather holds a Master's Degree in Thanatology, which is the study of
Death, Dying, and Bereavement, from Hood College. She is an
IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist,
and holds three certificates from the Phoenix Rising Yoga School of
Yoga Therapy, in yoga therapy, therapeutic yoga teacher training, and
group facilitation. She is also registered through Yoga Alliance as a
Registered Yoga Teacher-200 hours.
Heather discovered yoga and mindfulness while she was the CEO of a web development company and diagnosed with a stress-related illness. These contemplative practices inspired her to live a life in service to others, and she became a suicide/crisis hotline call specialist in honor of her uncle who died by suicide when Heather was a child. Heather has led workshops for organizations including Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, and the Association of Death Education and Counseling.
She is the founder of the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland, where she has a private practice, and offers supportive articles and guided meditations at MindfulnessAndGrief.com.
Let me begin with what the program is not.
What it IS:
When are live online events held?
Master Classes are tentatively scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month, May 2018 - April 2019 at 8:30 pm EST, with the exception of July, which will be held the second Wednesday of the month. All Master Classes will be recorded so you can watch them at your convenience. Accountability circles are tentatively scheduled for the second Wednesday and third Monday of each month at your choice of 12 PM EST or 8 PM EST. These may be facilitated by Heather or a Meditation for Grief mentor.
What happens if I can’t make one or more of the Monthly Master Classes?
Don’t worry – these sessions will be recorded, and the replay will be made available to everyone in the group. While you won’t get to participate in the Live Q&A session, you can always post your questions in the Private Facebook Group.
How do the Accountability Circles work?
The accountability circles are designed to help you keep your practice on track, and provide a forum for you share victories and receive support if you are facing obstacles.
Each accountability circle will begin with a brief centering, and then the “floor” will be open for sharing. Each session will also close with an integration, so you can create an action step for the upcoming two weeks. There is no judgment, only loving support.
What do I do if I need to miss one or more of the Accountability Circles?
It is normal for people to miss a handful of sessions during a program of this length. If you can’t make a session, you can always share how your practice is going (or any hindrances you are facing) in the Private Facebook Group.
How do the self-guided retreats work?
This is a chance for you to spend some quiet time with yourself! You will receive instructions to create a retreat experience in your own home for yourself, including logistics, schedule, and guided meditations for practice. Alternatively, you may choose to find space at a church or yoga studio for your personal retreat.
It is suggested that you do your self-guided retreats during August (Self-Compassion) and January (Meaning Reconstruction).
How long do I have access to the content?
While most people who offer online courses say “forever,” grief teaches us about impermanence. All course modules and lecture recordings will be available to you for many years to come - and as long as Heather is doing grief work - which should be for quite some time!
What is the Mindfulness & Grief Alumni Group?
The Alumni Group is for people who have participated in the 8-week and 8-month program. We meet online once a month online to share and check in. This helps you stay connected and receive support as your life continues to unfold.
What is the Thanksgiving Day Gratitude Circle
In the United States, Thanksgiving is the first of the major winter holidays, and can be particularly difficult. You are invited to join Heather online at 10 AM EST for a guided meditation and virtual group hug.
Do I have to read the Mindfulness & Grief book?
No. Each Monthly Master Class will focus on the topics from the book, so you will get the content you need from the program itself. You may wish to read the book for additional information, such as the inspirational stories, and to help reinforce the meditation techniques.
What payment options are available?
The tuition for this pilot-program is $1,695. Payment plans are available. You may pay with a credit card or use PayPal financing to get 0% interest for 6 months. A portion of each person's tuition will be placed in a scholarship fund for people facing financial hardships. Please mention if you would like to apply for a scholarship on the application form.
Who is this course NOT good for?
This course is designed specifically for grief associated with the death of a loved one. It is not suitable for relationship loss or divorce. If you have a psychiatric diagnosis that includes psychosis such as hallucinations or active flashbacks, meditation may exacerbate your suffering. Please clear this program with your mental health provider before continuing.
What if I enroll, and find out the course isn’t right for me?
As long as you have participated in 80% of the combined Master Classes and Accountability Meetings, and complete at least two modules of the online course, you are eligible for a full refund within 60 days if you don’t find the program satisfactory.
What type of computer do I need to participate?
Any computer, laptop, tablet, or phone that has a web browser and access to the internet will work. We recommend that you connect to a reliable wifi network so the video is stable and the audio is clear. Streaming without wifi may result in data charges.
What do I do if I have other questions?
Schedule a 15 minute call with Heather!