Morning Rituals for Grief: When Depression Comes...
8 min read

Morning Rituals for Grief: When Depression Comes...

Morning Rituals for Grief: When Depression Comes...
Photo by David Thielen / Unsplash

Always remember that your moment of singing will come again

Grief takes you into very dark and dank places. Slowly over time, apathy begins to shapeshift until it becomes depression.

You start forgetting what it feels like to have real feelings.

You wish you could scream, break things, cry even, but you don’t even have the emotional energy to be sad.

Hopelessness spreads and it is a strange moment when you realize that you don’t want to go on living, because what’s the point anyway?

When I lost my mama, in that first year, I had an overwhelming desire to stop existing. It was as if I was trapped in a dark pit of despair and I would look out and see others going about their lives, while I was there suspended in time.

“Despair is a haven with its own temporary form of strange beauty and self-compassion; it is the invitation we accept when we want to remove ourselves from hurt. Despair is a last protection. To disappear through despair is to seek a temporary but necessary illusion, a place where we hope nothing can find us in the same way again.” – David Whyte

Most people who tell you to exercise when you are weighed down by depression have definitely not experienced the existential heaviness as though the effect of gravity has quadrupled, and your body is something you have to drag around.

Your mind and body basically shut down.

Simple things become monumental – getting out of bed is akin to climbing Mt. Everest, and brushing your teeth becomes a test of willpower. Taking a shower feels like cleaning an auditorium. The hopelessness feels absolute as though things will never change. It is tough to accept that you will never see your person again and the feelings are too overwhelming.

I know everything looks bleak right now, but please try this morning ritual which I created specifically to support someone experiencing the depression caused by the death of a loved one. It is my hope that is morning ritual will begin to initiate your healing process and reveal to you the glimmer in the darkness which has always been there.

Ritual Prep

You can purchase some of the things you will need in advance for this ritual.

Light Therapy

Books

Essential Oils

They can be used in a diffuser, spray bottle, bath, or gently inhaled. See examples of a few which aid with depresseion

  • Neroli: Can act like an antidepressant and offers strong emotional support.
  • Rose: This is the choice of oil for grief. Effective for PTSD. It brings about a sense of love and mothering and is very healing for the heart
  • Patchouli: This oil helps with bereavement and depression.
  • Tangerine: Offers hope and reconnection to joy

Crystals

Crystals have healing energies and can help shift your emotional, mental, and energetic states and the ones here are especially helpful when you are experiencing the weight of despair.

  • Rose Quartz: It is a beautiful tonic for heavy hearts and can be used to restore trust and harmony. It is a vibrant heart opener
  • Citrine: Spreads positive energy and pierces dark clouds with its luminosity. Helps you combat the dark clouds of depression.
  • Pink Opal: This crystal helps you to overcome grief by restoring a sense of hope and optimism toward the future
  • Black Onyx: This crystal will empower you with courage during difficult times by giving you closure from your loss while protecting you from any negativity around you. It is beneficial for overcoming depression after loss related to death
  • Rhodonite: Can be used to prevent depression after a loss, especially if you have trouble getting out of bed due to lack of motivation. It helps you move through grief by restoring hope and optimism

How to use the crystals

  • You can wear them, place them under your pillow, or on your body when you do your morning ritual or practice.

Getting Started

“Despair is a necessary and seasonal state of repair, a temporary healing absence, an internal physiological and psychological winter when our previous forms of participation in the world take a rest; We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is a time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope.” – David Whyte
  • I know it is extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning, but you don’t need to. The starting times here are for demonstration purposes only.
  • You will notice that most of the practices are passive and you can do them lying down in bed. All you need to do is create a starting point.  Your morning ritual could be 2-minutes long. Don’t let the idea of adding additional practices overwhelm you. Do what feels comfortable to you, but try incorporating small changes each day.
  • Feel free to switch up the order of activities. For example, you might want to do the yoga stretches before breathwork or vice versa.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night, this will begin to help you get into a rhythm.
  • In grief, when everything feels out of control, setting a small personal intention for the day can help you feel more in control and supported.  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.
  • Setting your intention might be all you might be able to do on the first day and this is ok.

The Ritual Flow – Heart Healer

Total Time: 5 – 90 minutes

We take the first steps out of despair by taking on its full weight and coming fully to ground in our wish not to be here. We let our bodies and we let our world breathe again. In that breathing, despair cannot do anything but change into something else, into some other seasons, as it was meant to do from the beginning.” – David Whyte

Ritual Intention: I take on the full weight of despair and I let my body breathe again.

7:00 A.M: It’s going to be hard to get out of bed, so don’t even try at this point.

  • Allow yourself to stay in bed after waking up and instead of going into automatic gloom, press play on this heart-opening playlist and surrender, relax and allow yourself to be submerged and bathed in the sound. Allow the affirmations and intentions in the sound to permeate every aspect of your being. Just imagine that you are a sponge, and you are absorbing the waves of healing sound.

7:10 A.M.: Use light therapy within the first hour of waking up for 20-30 minutes and turn on an essential oil diffuser if you have one. As you lay down, you can also place one of the crystals suggested above on the center of your chest to help support you.

7:15 A.M.: Stilly lying down exactly as you are, perform any one of these practices.

Heart breath meditation (created by Hilda Charlton)

  • Imagine a nose at the center of your chest.
  • Take two quick inhales and exhales through your heart's nose and for the third breath make it a long inhale and exhale.
  • Repeat for three cycles.

Tapping the Grief Point: As you breathe, begin to tap your heart center which Stephen Levine describes as the grief point. Allow this area to soften as you turn towards yourself in self-compassion allowing the heaviness to be present. Perform this tapping for 30 seconds – one minute or until you feel complete

7:30 A.M.:  Instead of trying to do any sort of exercise at this time when it feels impossible, try the following restorative yoga poses and heart openers.

  • Starfish: Spread out your arms and legs on your bed like a starfish and take up space. (Corpse pose)
  • Supine spinal twist: Gently bring your right knee to your chest and hold below the knee with both hands. With your left hand, twist your right knee to the left and extend your right hand to your right. Repeat with left knee
  • Knees to Chest: Next bring both knees to your chest and make circles rotating your knees and pelvis in a clockwise direction. You can do this for 30 seconds.
  • Restorative Fish Pose: Lying on your back, fold a pillow and place it beneath your shoulder blades so that you are in a restorative fish pose. Bring the soles of your feet to touch as your knees fall wide in butterfly pose. Allow your head to fall back with your throat open while your right-hand goes to hold your pelvis and your left hand is over your heart center. Take about 10 breaths in this pose. Allow yourself to say here as long as you need.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Starting with your feet, squeeze your toes and then release them a few times. You can also rub the top of one foot with the other foot and just keep awareness on your feet. You can continue, moving up to your calves, thighs, pelvis, arms, shoulders, and ultimately your face.

7:45 A.M.: At this point, if you feel ready, get out of bed, and continue your practice. If not, spend some time listening to an audiobook, podcast, or poem. See some specially selected resources for depression below.

8:30 A.M.: If you cannot muster the energy to take a shower, just splash your face with some cold water or wipe it with a washcloth. Use one of the essential oils suggested on your wrists or spray on the washcloth.

8:45 A.M.: Have a mood-lifting breakfast to stimulate serotine release. Yogurt, oatmeal, and chia seeds are good easy options. You can also try Element’s vitality drink that has Rhodiola for a quick boost. Probiotics might also be helpful.

9:00 A.M: Continue listening to music, a podcast, or one of the audiobooks from above. I also really love The Depression Project which has a lot of resources for depression that let you know you are not alone. You can spend some time on their Instagram page.

9:15 A.M.: During the day, create a bubble of regenerating white light around you and repeat your mantra as often as you need. You can also find additional support for grief in this article on communal support during grief.

Mantra for the day: I am surrounded by love that heals and regenerates me at all levels of my being

Life is always in flux

The issue with depression is that your outlook on life is so bleak that you believe that things will never change.

You believe that this is your new forever normal and you cannot escape.

This cannot be further from the truth. You will not always feel this way, and I have witnessed and read about many stories of transformation and deep integration. It is my hope that as you practice this morning ritual, over time, you begin to experience the germination of the seed of possibility and hope that is always a moment away.

“Your moment of singing will come again, and when it does, know that has always been inevitable” - William Sierghart