“Just be,” was the sagest advice I received upon entering grief in full force.
“What the heck does that mean?” is what I heard my internal voice silently reply.

A dear friend who lost his wife nine months before I lost my own beloved gifted me with that message as we departed from another tear-soaked get together. Though I didn’t get it at the time, I came to understand. I remembered his advice and examined it periodically as I tried to live my new, strange life. But I didn’t do it right away. I tried to outrun grief first. It can’t be outrun.

Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try

I found myself with the bizarre title of executrix and there was much involved in this business of concluding a life: car tags and titles to be changed, hospital bills to be paid, insurance company and hospital representatives to mediate, credit cards to cancel, clients to contact with the sad news and many papers to sign. It went on and on. I was very busy, purposely so I now realize.

It felt like it was over a month before I even sat down. There was no time to just be. Truth be told, I was afraid of what would happen if I did quiet myself long enough. There were moments of torturous grief and I was certain that I would be swallowed whole by them if I sat still for too long.

 Don’t let your heart get heavy
Child, inside you there’s a strength that lies

Then the day came, I finally starting learning how to just be. It was the first of March but there was snow outside the windows of my Georgia home. For weeks I had rushed around trying to get “everything” done (whatever that was), trying to be both parents to our children (not even possible) and seemingly never stopping to rest.  The snow intervened. There was no place to go, no errands could be or would be done that day. Inside I sat on my couch under a blanket and watched as the blanket of white covered and hid the objects outside.

Don’t let your soul get lonely
Child, it’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you that’s where you’ll find kindness

I stared at the white scene on the other side of my equally colorless window frame. I was still and though I felt the gravity of my loss I also felt the peace of allowing myself to just be with it. Not only did it not kill me, I understood that I could weather this storm. In those times when I could just be with my grief I found that eventually it gets lighter. And those moments? That is where the hope gets in.

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Gentle snowfalls are not always going to serendipitously appear for us. We can cultivate our ability to just be, however. Here are a few simple ways that work for me:

  • Sit in silence for 5 or 10 minutes – no television, no phone, no radio – just silence. As thoughts drift in, notice them and let them go. (This is meditation. It can be that simple.)
  • Take a bath
  • Walk alone in nature and breathe in the fresh air
  • Light a candle and listen to soothing music
  • Whenever “Be Here Now” by Ray LaMontagne comes up on my playlist I take that moment to stop and listen

If you would like a copy of my eight minute “Just Be” meditation you can receive it as a free gift when you sign up for the Artful Living After Loss newsletter.

Are you able to ‘just be?’ What works for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.




Lyrics from “Be Here Now” by Ray LaMontagne
Photo by Tamara Beachum