The Grief Practice: Monique Minahan
After losing her husband at a young age, Monique Minahan discovered the world of stigmatized grief that many experience after losing a loved one: a world of isolation, depression, and void of helpful resources. Monique went on to be the change she wanted to see in the world and started developing her own methods of support for those who are grieving. Her virtual and in-person offerings, as well as her book titled “The Grief Practice”, take a holistic approach to managing grief that is rooted in compassion, patience, and our collective humanity.
Grief in the Body
A core aspect of the typical "treatments" available to those who are grieving is that they are designed to be just that: treatments. The various forms of therapy most commonly deployed to assist people struggling with grief usually revolve around discussing, analyzing, and restructuring the grieving person's thoughts and emotions. Monique has adopted a different approach that starts not in your mind but in your body. Deep emotional pain can often feel vividly physical, but we are not always taught what to make of this information or what to do with it. Instead of attempting to "cure" the grief from your mind, the resources available through The Grief Practice, which we have provided brief descriptions for as well as links to below, helps you tune into your grief and its physical manifestations, and gives you the tools to live with it as you move through it.
Body Scan Meditation:
We inhabit our physical body every minute of every day, but it is often the inner workings of our minds that we are most engrossed in; this is especially true in times of intense emotional distress. Monique's free 30-minute guided body scan meditation invites you to become attuned to each part of your body. A wonderful yet gentle approach to the practice of mindfulness, this body scan meditation can be incorporated into your life as often as it suits you.
Gentle & Active Yoga:
When it comes to the most painful emotions we can experience as human beings, grief is all-encompassing. Carrying the enormous weight of this pain doesn't make it go away and only serves to wear us down. Never an advocator of trying to suppress or reject your grief, Monique invites you to move with your grief and examine how it is moving within you. The idea of not only facing our pain but accepting it and living with it is undoubtedly terrifying, but it is also an opportunity to develop an intimacy and acceptance with ourselves that will pave the way to healing. Monique, a trauma- and polyvagal-informed yoga teacher, has two different virtual yoga practices available for you to try at the time and place of your choosing: For an inward-focused practice to help guide and refine your attention, try her Gentle Yoga; for a movement-based practice that invites the energy of your grief to flow through you instead of bear down on you, try her Active Yoga.
The novel therapeutic practice of Body Mapping has been implemented across the globe to assist people facing a wide and diverse range of challenges, from women living with HIV in South Africa to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Ireland. Monique has adapted this practice in the form of a free downloadable Body Map that you can print out and use to locate where in your body you feel your grief is harboring each day.
If the above practices intrigue or resonate with you, you can find further information about each of them in Monique's book, The Grief Practice. Designed to be both a "storybook and workbook", it is a window into the lives and experiences of others who have suffered a great loss, as well as a compassionate and instructional guide for implementing carefully developed, research-based practices - such as the ones above - into your life.
The Story of Grief
The value of reading about the experiences of others cannot be overstated. Every person's journey with and through grief is entirely unique, but that doesn't mean that commonalities cannot be found; it is in these commonalities that we can find the bittersweet comfort of knowing what we feel is not only understood but truly shared. It is also through reading the experiences of others that we are able to view life, and loss, through a different perspective, which can serve to broaden or enlighten our own. Unfortunately, death and grief are considered taboo subjects that many feel should only be discussed in the privacy of one's home or therapist's office. This has led to many people being blindsided and overwhelmed by the realities of loss and grief, only to then suffer in silence and isolation. Fortunately, we have the internet and people like Monique Minahan, who has created a dedicated safe space for people to share "the nitty-gritty, hard-to-tell details; the moments of heart expansion and the never-ending stories about the nights where we thought the tears wouldn’t stop".
Every single one of the stories are worth taking the time to read, but here are just a few excerpts that show the power of love, of loss, and of the written word:
"Right after I lost my mom, someone said to me, 'You lost a mom, but not a mom.' What I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter – the grief is still there. You grieve what little you had and you grieve for what you never had." (Losing A Mom But Not A Mom)
"Being somewhat of a creative dreamer and a person who, in my spiritual immaturity, likes to try to entice God into doing what I want, I was asking God to show me a tree frog to let me know Camryn was near." (The Visit)
"I felt limited in my sorrow, as I knew too much stress on my body could be harmful for my baby. It’s like I had to hold in a deep wailing that was meant to be outward and expressed." (Bittersweet)
"His addiction changed us both entirely, and what I could never have predicted was the depth at which I would fall. Deeper in love. Deeper in loss. Deeper in life." (Demons & Angels)
We here at Close By Me were not paid or even asked to write this blog post about Monique Minahan and The Grief Practice; we genuinely admire her story, her perspective, and the resources she offers. Whether or not you are a current or previous client of ours, we know that if you're here, you are going through one of the hardest facets of life. We hope you found a practice or an idea in this post that comforts or inspires you, and if not, we hope it at least helped you understand a little better what path to healing best suits you.