How Breathing Can Be Useful When Dealing With Grief

The Exhale
June 7, 2022
5 min read

Grief can be one of the most intense and profound emotions someone can experience in their lifetime. The loss of loved ones takes a heavy toll, and being able to deal with our feelings of loss can be highly challenging.

When we lose loved ones following a death or similar circumstance, it can feel like a titanic task to move forward with our lives. Every loss is different, and every grieving process can be similarly diverse. However, dealing with the additional effects of pronounced anxiety and stress that inevitably follows can be managed more directly.

In today’s blog, we’ll be covering the impact of grief on the body and the tools we can use in our breathing practice to help even out the process of grief as we experience it.

Read on!

The Body

The effects of grief are difficult to fully appreciate as the nature of the emotions, and the surrounding contexts of how it occurs, range broadly from one person to another. However, the physical effects of grief can be relatively constant.

Fundamentally, grief is a stressor of the worst kind as it affects us in the most profoundly personal way possible. As a result, our bodies can respond to this stressor significantly. One of the most crucial ways this happens is in our fight or flight response. Typically, when losing a loved one, our bodies react similarly to the presence of danger, leading to a quickness of breath and a sudden tightness in our muscles as the body prepares for a perceived threat.

This response is perfectly normal when receiving any sort of bad news, but it can become a more pronounced issue if the body isn’t allowed to calm down.

The Mind

Much like our bodies, our minds are similarly affected by grief – with many struggling to process the fundamental nature of losing their loved ones. As a result, the mind can scramble to try and find a solution to the problem, rather than settling into a state of acceptance and healing. In these cases, finding closure can be a challenging task as we fall into a cycle of anxiety.

The Soul

One of the focuses of breathwork is the idea of reflection and introspection. When we focus on the task of breathing in a controlled manner, we are essentially trying to allow ourselves to feel present and mindful of our surroundings, removing the distractions and stressors of daily life.

As a result, conscious breathing techniques can be vital to addressing the feelings of anxiety and loss we typically associate with grief.

Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet placed side by side on the floor. Close your eyes.

  • Place one hand on your belly, with your pinky finger just above your belly button.
  • Pay attention to the rise and fall of your belly as your diaphragm works to draw air in and out of your lungs.
  • Notice as you breathe in and then out, focusing on the rhythm of the breathing process.
  • Place your other hand on your chest and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • After a few moments, begin to inhale slowly to the count of three.
  • Then exhale slowly to the count of three.
  • Stay focused on the action of your diaphragm. Your bottom hand should move outward as you fill your lungs with air and move inward as you exhale.
  • Continue this process until you feel more relaxed; take your time and ensure to stop if you begin to feel lightheaded.

For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.

And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.


The Exhale