by Megha Nancy Buttenheim
Welcome to the continuation of this blog series, Finding Grace within Grief: Seven Healing Ways. In this series, I offer Positive Psychology and Let Your Yoga Dance tools to help those experiencing loss and dark times. If you’re just joining in, to get the most out of this blog, please return to the introduction.
Way 3: Finding Meaning
An important book I re-read during my time of grieving was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. He actually managed to find meaning in the hell of his Auschwitz years.
After my baby daughter’s death, my then-husband and I created a gift of meaning for her: the Tour for Grace. We concocted a plan: to buy a motor home, and, in Sarah Grace’s honor, travel throughout the United States and Canada, teaching the work we had learned and led throughout our 12 years at Kripalu. We traveled and taught for three years. To this day, whenever I travel to lead trainings, workshops, and retreats, I call it the Tour for Grace. While on tour, I created a name for my dancing yoga practice, Grace in Motion, which is another name for Let Your Yoga Dance.
Finding meaning in Sarah Grace’s life and death has been crucial, empowering, and healing.
Way 4: Creativity
Creative expression —dancing, singing, writing, witnessing, reading, being in nature—were all necessary outlets for my healing. In my darkest moments, I could find a glimmer of light just by singing a song I loved, or moving my aching body to a piece of music.
I remember trying to be strong 10 days after Sarah Grace’s death so that I would be able to read my first poem about her, “Summer of Grace,” at her memorial. I didn’t know if I possibly could; I was afraid. But a song kept coming into my consciousness, a song from The King and I. I started to sing this song over and over again:
Whenever I feel afraid—I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune—so no one will suspect I’m afraid …
Make believe you’re brave and the trick will take you far
You may be as brave as you make believe you are …
I sang while walking or resting outdoors beneath the trees. On the day of the memorial, I leaned against a birch tree under the summer sun. I tried to read the poem, but couldn’t get past the first few lines. I can’t possibly do this, I thought.
Suddenly I heard a whisper on the wind, rustling through the birch trees. I heard what seemed to me to be the voice of a grown-up Sarah Grace, telling me, “Mom, I want you to overcome your fear; I want you to read my poem.” I realized that I was the only one who could be her mouthpiece. She needed me to be strong, to be her voice. I obeyed. I read her poem at the memorial, and I was proud I did.
Megha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, E-RYT, Megha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, E-RYT 500, is the founding director of Let Your Yoga Dance® and a faculty member for Wholebeing Institute’s Certificate in Positive Psychology. letyouryogadance.com