5 ways to be present: even when the present is grief

The word present struck me with its double meaning this week. Present-to be here, existing, at this moment, and also to give someone something, as a gift. What about finding a gift when things grief strucks?

Yesterday, I was deep in a writing tuck for this week’s blog when the tornado hit OK. Watching the newsfeed and the videos, I felt the heaviness as first responders looked for the children at the elementary school in Moore.

I had a full day at hand, but found myself drifting back to the news, listening to NPR, praying for the community of Moore.

My heart ached. It was a similar heaviness I felt around the week of the Boston Marathon bombing. Checking in with myself, I realized it was also a similar ache I felt earlier in the morning as I watched a video about Zach Sobleah, the teenager who passed away yesterday from Osteosarcoma and had some very wise things to share about his last months on earth. Here is a link to the interview by Soul Pancake about him. You didn’t have to know Zach to feel personally connected to him. Same with the Boston Marathon Bombing or Moore to feel connected to what happened.

This morning, I work up being present to something Zach said.

“You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living.”

For most of us, we meander along, happy we go to work, to school, along with our daily routines, until tragedy or something BIG strikes and changes us. Some of us have a bucket list we check off, vacations we plan, etc. And when tragedy strikes close to home, it reminds us to live life more fully, more authentically, practicing more gratitude, more love. Eventually, somewhere along the line, as human nature goes, we return to the life we knew.

But what if, what if just by being more accepting to the “gifts, lessons, presents” these BIG circumstances brings, we become more present and end up stretching more, and doing more of those things on our bucket list?

Answer the following about your day so far:

-What are your present to?
-Have you been taken actions or made choices based on what tomorrow may bring?
-Do you find yourself in the past, your head more filled with worry, fear, anger, resentment, or regret?
-Are you in the here and now or have you spent time replaying old movies in your head about something that went wrong, and/or the “should haves” that came after it?
-Have you done anything so far today, just for the sake of doing, enjoying, without any merit or work attached to it?
-Have you giggled, laughed out loud, taken a moment to be silly?

What if, even in painful events, there is a gift or a “present” we have yet to uncover?

Watching the video about Zach Sobleah yesterday reminded me again what a “gift” I am given each day.  Having had a bone cancer similar to Zach, I have stretched beyond my comfort zone and probably have taken more risks or been known to act more from my gut. However, it is when I am being of service, walking my talk, meditate, go inward, practice letting go of everything that I think I know, that I am more PRESENT to the present, and when “a-ha” moments come for me.


Here are 5 ways to be present; even when the present is grief

-Block out time in your schedule to quiet the mind in whatever way it suits you for at least 15 minutes each day. You can meditate, yoga, practice breathing exercises, walking meditation or anything that helps you clear your head of your to do list. Sit with your grief, your emotions, anything that comes up, especially if you are in upset.

-Try not to take on the “suffering” part on. Worry, fear, anger, resentment, all of that ball of wax. Because chances are, whatever is in front of you right now, crazy as it sounds, is meant to show up. Since the stuff that worries us the most is probably the stuff we cannot “change” right now, not assigning extra meaning behind it will help you get out from any suffering or “victim” thinking. Yep, it may be uncomfortable and down right painful, but it helps not to add suffering to the mix.

-Even when we may feel like the “why us” or “I can’t take anymore”, try and find one thing that can bring a sparkle back into your current life at the moment. A warm hug, a giggle, looking up something funny on YouTube can help shift an awful mood.

-Do one thing each day that has no meaning but just FUN. Linger a minute longer than usual at whatever it may be. We all have so many responsibilities, that sometimes the job of “living” can feel like “dying”.

-Remind yourself that suffering is optional and try to look at life for a day pretending to not know anything. It is only through our own lens that we perceive or label something to be good or bad. I remind myself that for someone else, it may be completely different. Labeling something as suffering only adds more suffering. But when we look at life from the context that we don’t “know” anything, we find ourselves more open to what is. Especially when challenges occur, we are more apt to be open to problem solving than moaning about our misfortune.

Please share this with anyone who may be experiencing heartache this week. <3

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on being “present” below. 



11 thoughts on “5 ways to be present: even when the present is grief”

  1. Beautiful post Claire – I love that you mention finding something that makes you sparkle – the anti-thesis of grief. We are such complex beings that we often forget we are capable of (and have permission to!) feeling both the grief and the sparkle at the same time.

  2. Aw love! To your home state! we all need sparkle, no matter how dim the light. It’s what makes the darkness just a bit more bearable. <3 thanks for reading and your support. I love you!

  3. Lovely Claire. Love that you point out how important it is to allow our emotions and that we can experience sadness, fear, etc. without taking on the suffering portion.

  4. Beautiful post. We are the directors of our life, we can chose how to be and think. It is so important to feel how bright our light is, then to shine it brightly on everyone we cross paths with.

  5. Thank you so much, Claire! I have been struggling a lot. Thanks for the reminder of the double meaning of the word “present”. Doing my best to not live in the past!


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