Note to readers: Welcome to Part 3, the continuation of this eight part blog mini-series, Finding Grace within Grief, Seven Healing Ways. In this piece, I offer Positive Psychology and Let Your Yoga Dance tools to help those experiencing loss and dark times. If you are just joining in, to get the most out of this blog, please return to the introduction. This is a story; it’s wise to start reading a story at the beginning.
Way 3: Finding Meaning
An important book I reread during this time was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. He actually managed to find meaning from the hell of his Auschwitz years.
Meaning came pretty quickly for both my then-husband and for me. After Sarah Grace was born, we took a walk around the Berkshire hills surrounding Kripalu. From that walk we created our own gift of meaning to our daughter, the Tour for Grace. We concocted a plan: to buy a motor home, and in Sarah Grace’s honor, we would travel throughout the United States and Canada, teaching the work we had learned and led throughout our twelve years at Kripalu. We traveled and taught for three years. In fact, to this day, whenever I travel to lead trainings, workshops, and retreats, it’s still called the Tour for Grace. While on tour, I created a name for my dancing yoga practice, Grace in Motion, which is also another name for Let Your Yoga Dance.
Finding meaning in Sarah Grace’s life and death has been crucial, empowering, and healing to me.
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 or dancing to a song I loved, or moving my aching body to a piece of music.
I remember trying to be strong ten 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 that familiar Broadway song from the King and I kept returning to my consciousness. I started to sing it again, this time, not so much for happiness, but for courage:
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….
This dear old song helped! It was empowering. I sang while walking or resting outdoors in a lovely grove of trees. On the day of the memorial, I leaned against a birch tree, beneath the August summer sun. I tried once again to read her memorial poem, but soon stopped, thinking: “I can’t possibly do this.” Suddenly I heard a whisper on the wind, rustling through the birch trees. I heard what I imagined was my daughter 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. I needed to stand up and be strong. So I obeyed. I read her poem at the memorial. I’ve spent the last 19 years doing my best to dance through my fears, while helping my students dance through theirs.
Megha-Nancy Buttenheim, M.A., is the founder of Let Your Yoga Dance: Grace in Motion®. An international presenter and corporate trainer, Megha is a 27 year teacher-trainer at Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is also a faculty member at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and Kind Yoga School in Cape Cod, MA. She brings her passion and expertise as a lifelong dancer, actress, singer, yogi, and educator in experiential learning to all her workshops and trainings.