You will not always feel this way. With time, color and excitement will bloom again.
Life is devoid of color, taste, and smells.
All your emotions are muted and the things that once gave you pleasure and pumped you up do nothing for you.
You know you should be doing something, but your motivation ranges from lacking to non-existent.
Your friends and family irritate you; your favorite movies and hobbies are just meh and food tastes bland!
Say hello to apathy – one of the darker faces of grief.
With apathy, in the place of sadness or any of the other expected emotions of grief, you feel nothing. It is as though you are shuffling through your life enveloped in a grey fog meaningless, detached from everyday life.
And the crazy thing is that you don’t even know how to deal with this because honestly how do you combat nothing when you cannot touch it or see it?
And with every day that goes by, it slowly sucks out meaning from everything in your life. I remember being in this robotic state for about 5 months. My energy was at an all-time low and I could barely summon the motivation to get out of bed. It was as though there was a grey lens between me and the world.
The birth of apathy
When you lose someone who has grounded your sense of self, there is a destruction of the world you knew. Life as you knew it and certain aspects of our identity have ended. In these moments of existential confusion, you are saddled with the difficult task of redefining your relationship with the person who died and bridging the gap between the way the world was with our loved one in it and the way it is now.
This becomes an almost impossible task in the Western culture that has no rites of passage rituals to help you make the transition. As a result, you experience a profound sense of dislocation and remain quarantined in this in-between liminal state where life feels meaningless and pointless.
Apathy is the natural result of this state of powerlessness, helplessness, and inability to find a way forward. In the morning, this pressing emptiness might be more pronounced because a day yawns endlessly in front of you with no direction.
It is my hope that this morning ritual will help you begin to ease back into the conversation with life, acquire the tools you need to rebuild the foundation of your life and offer you a safe space to process some of the stuck and frozen emotions of grief.
- Try to get up at the same time each morning. The starting times here are for demonstration purposes only
- Spend as much or as little time as you need on the different activities. For example, you might prefer 10 minutes of light stretching instead of an hour-long sweat session. Also, feel free to switch up the other of activities in the ritual
- Your morning starts the night before. Make sure you get good sleep and plan for the next day.
- In grief, when everything feels out of control, setting a small personal intention for the day can help you feel more in control and support. I have included an intention for your ritual and a mantra for the day specific to this ritual, but feel free to modify it to something that resonates more with you
Ritual flow - Sitting with apathy
Total Time: 30 – 90 minutes
Ritual Intention: I embrace the feelings of emptiness and apathy with the power of compassion of my heart
6:00 A.M: Take your time waking up and then spend a few minutes reflecting on how your body feels as you listen to this heart-opening playlist
6:10 A.M.: Lying down, use your four fingers to gently tap on your heart center (center of your chest)
- As you tap, imagine golden light from your fingers entering the part of your body you are tapping. Repeat your intention for the morning ritual 3-5 times
6:15 A.M.: Spend some time journaling and connecting with the feeling of apathy. You can journal to some of the prompts below to begin to give shape to it
- If these feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness were a color, what color would it be, what shape, what texture? is it warm or cold? Allow yourself the freedom to write whatever comes to mind without holding back.
- Ask your apathy to reveal itself. Ask it what it is inside. If it could speak, what would it say? How does it look and feel today? What is the shape of apathy today?
- Conclude your journaling session by drawing a picture of the face of apathy
6:30 A.M.: Next, spend about 10-minutes performing this heart-opening breathwork visualization to connect you with universal love and the support you need to begin to melt any armor and frozen grief emotions in your heart center
- To start, allow your breath to be completely natural.
- Bring awareness to the chest and heart region and visualize a rose-colored light in the heart.
- With each inhale imagine the rose-colored light growing and glowing around your heart's center
- When you feel centered in your heart space, recall the image of apathy from journaling and bring it into this rose-colored light in an embrace.
- Allow your attention to rest here for a moment. With each inhale, bring the face of empathy more into your heart, with each exhale, direct the pure energy of love towards it.
- This is not passive, but an active breathing visualization breathwork. As you breathe let your heart energy intelligence take over and go where it needs to go.
- Try 10 rounds to start, and build upon this in subsequent practices.
6:40 A.M.: Spend 20 -30 minutes performing some stretches to create space in your body. You can try some heart-opening yoga flow. If possible, taking a walk out in nature will be very beneficial to allow you to connect back to life.
7:00 A.M.: Take a nice warm shower while listening to music that injects vitality into your day
7:15 A.M.: Breakfast options with a kick to them, would be beneficial for you at this time to create some inner heat.
7:30 A.M.: As you eat your breakfast, you can listen to a podcast episode or watch a comedy skit for some laughs and connection. See a list of podcasts under additional resources below
8:00 A.M.: Have a sensory stimulating day! Try performing the breath of fire breathwork intermittently throughout the day when you especially feel flat and repeat your mantra for the day.
You can also perform heart breathing throughout your day, sending love to any feelings of emptiness.
Mantra for the day: I am surrounded by love and support
Here are some podcast episodes in which people share their stories of grief and how it evolved over time. You will not always feel this way.
- Good Mourning Grief Podcast: UP CLOSE & GRIEFY: Then Vs Now - How Grief Evolves (56 minutes)
- Grief Encounters: Understanding Trauma with Neil Fox (31 minutes)
- Grief Encounters: How Grief Helped Me Grow with Justin Caffrey ( Child loss – 42 minutes)
- Grief Encounters: Giving Back In Grief with Jane McKenna - The LauraLynn Foundation (56 minutes)
- Unlocking us With Brene Brown: David Kessler and Brene on Grief and Finding Meaning (46 minutes)
- Grief Out Loud: We're All Experts In Our Own Grief - Rebecca Soffer & The Modern Loss Handbook (46 minutes)
- Mindfulness in Grief: #37 Superhero Grief: The Transformative Power of Loss with Dr. Jill Harrington(87 minutes)
The evolution of apathy
Please remember that apathy is normal in grief. Experiencing an event like the death of a loved one makes you feel lost, helpless, and terrified and leaves you with a profound sense of powerlessness and existential untethering. Many of your beliefs and assumptions about life, may have been turned upside down on their head, and questioning the meaning of life is the natural outcome of this.
Apathy is the disconnection and pulling away from life as a means of coping. Apathy is also a sign from your inner nature letting you know that you have unattended sorrows, and it is time to start tending to your grief with compassion and patience through active grieving.
After doing this morning ritual for some time, you might find out that your emotions start resurfacing again. Try to do this morning ritual for at least 30 days in addition to setting aside time daily to connect with your grief. You can use grief-sitting rituals like crying sessions, art, support groups, and therapy.
With time, it does get better. I was also in this place of aimlessly wandering through life in a haze of grey, but I did find the light side of grief and have entered a new phase of life filled with purpose, meaning, and a renewed relationship with my mother.