Vivienne,  Canberra

 Grief does many terrible things to you. The loss of your spouse is not just sad, it’s also quite terrifying, because you’ve lost half of you.

My experience was a whole gamut of reactions: overwhelming heartbreak, role stress and strain from now having to raise our 2 young children (who were also grieving) alone, feelings of extreme isolation, the loss of confidence in my gut instincts, fear & anxiety & a sense of inadequacy about our livelihood & finances, and many others.

I also fell into very poor sleeping habits – I was exhausted when I hopped into bed, but then my brain would kick in – such a busy brain, going over everything of that day or the week or even month before, and also anticipating what was to come tomorrow, next week, or next month. And everything became so magnified.

I tried all the usual things – alcohol, sleeping tablets, herbal supplements, turning devices off early so my mind could start to unwind, exercise – pretty much everything. But none had any lasting effect, none allowed me to stay asleep for more than a few hours, after which I’d waken & my mind would take over again. I’d have a racing, pounding heart in the middle of the night, and it was very scary, many nights.

I’d been trying to get to a Mindfulness course for a couple of years, but as they were all in the evenings, I had to wait until I was confident the kids (now teenagers) would be okay if I left them for a couple of hours.

The first night of the course, I felt calmer after the guided meditation, & came home feeling ‘lighter’. I did the body scan as I lay in bed, & then, I slept. I actually slept through – for the first time in months. Yes, I’d still taken my herbal stuff, & had had a glass of wine (as usual), but I slept so well, and felt truly refreshed in the morning. So, the next night, I skipped the herbal stuff & wine, & did the body scan in bed. But I fell asleep before I completed it. And again, I slept through.

I was doing the exercises during the day, and each evening, I’d feel calmer. And I fell asleep each night before I completed my body scan.

The classes each week helped me develop strategies to overcome my blocks to mindfulness, and hearing the other participants’ experiences helped too. Everyone has different issues, so hearing how they overcome them is helpful, for your own future reference. And it’s good to be a part of a group that works together for each other.

I no longer have a busy brain keeping me awake, I’m more relaxed and focused during the day, life doesn’t feel so overwhelming to me, and I just feel like I’m in a much better place now because of the Mindfulness Course. It’s given me the space to address other aspects of my health & fitness that had been ignored for the 3 years since my husband had died, & I am now much healthier physically as well as emotionally. And my kids have benefited too – they can see how much better I am, and so they now feel more confident too.

The Mindfulness Course has been life-changing for me. Vivienne