Grief has impacted many of us at various times in life – death of a loved one, illness, the end of a relationship, financial loss and the perception of failure in a career. We have been programmed to respond to such dramatic events with sadness. We have accepted the natural process of grief and submitted ourselves to the sadness and difficulties that follow our losses. But we don’t have to continue with this same pattern! At the Option Institute we believe that grief is an optional response to an event and that we can choose another path. Read below for more information.

How Grief Affects Our Lives

Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. We are taught that the “natural” response to such a life event is grief – a deep sadness about the loss. While grief is certainly a typical response in the grieving process, to say that it is natural is to speak as if we are somehow biologically programmed to experience it. And, indeed, that is what most of us are taught. We are told that there are natural stages of grief that we must pass through when experiencing a loss. In fact, in 1974 “The Handbook of Psychiatry” defined grief as “. . . the normal response to the loss of a loved one by death.” We, however, believe that grief is optional, not inevitable.

How the Option Institute Can Help in Dealing with Grief

We would never advocate the suppression of the grieving process for those who feel that they need to grieve. At the same time, if you are having trouble dealing with grief, we can offer you concrete assistance. We can help you examine the learned beliefs and perspectives you hold which continue to support your grief and sadness. Then you will have the opportunity to make key decisions about whether to retain or jettison these beliefs. The teachers of our programs will help you in the most nonjudgmental way, not pushing you, but rather opening doors for your understanding and change. Many of us, particularly those of us who have lost a loved one, fear letting go of our grief. We are afraid that in letting go of our grief, we will be somehow letting go of our love and caring of the one we have lost. We can show you how to treasure the one you have lost and deepen your caring for this person – with your gratitude, rather than your sadness. We can help you to move on with your life in dealing with grief – not as a dismissal of the one you loved, but as a celebration of them.

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Personal Stories — Letting Go of Grief

I have changed my vision of the life I want to and am able to live, by virtue of my stay here. I am just so excited about the person I’m becoming. I never thought I’d be able to feel anything but pain over my dad’s death, but now I see his death as the gift that brought me here. I know somewhere he is looking and smiling and being very present in my life!

Emily R.

Marketing Manager, New Jersey

Without a doubt, this past year was the most difficult year I’ve experienced in my life. The woman I wanted to marry left me; I was in the middle of a career change; my uncle died; and my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I came to The Option Institute confused and searching for new ways to deal with everything that was happening.  READ MORE

In the fall, I signed up for two programs at the Institute. It was two weeks of meditation and mindfulness unlike any therapy I’d experienced. When I was at the Institute, there were absolutely no labels attached to me because of my problems, nor definitions nor diagnoses that concluded I had a problem.

The most beneficial aspect of the Institute’s programs is the message that there are no right answers. The only right answers are the answers that you have for yourself. The atmosphere in the classroom was a kind of jovial other-worldliness- the camaraderie was amazing!

The Option Institute provided me with simple tools that helped me look at my life in a very new light. The most profound lesson I took from the programs is the realization that there is always a choice. Once you understand the simple but valuable lesson – we can view events as a blessing or a curse-we can then make the internal choice of happiness, leaving the external choice not so difficult to make.

My experience at The Option Institute has been one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself. In a sense, it started me on a spiritual journey, a journey to become more human. My mother is still battling cancer, and I have chosen to see it as a blessing, to make each moment count and be present in each moment, both with her and the rest of my family.

I am doing incredibly well in a new career and am enjoying my single status. I’ve learned to let go of the past and concentrate on the good things in my life-there are only the infinite possibilities of the present for me. The ‘what ifs’ no longer exist.
Tim Suh

Information Technology Consultant, Illinois

I came here to deal with my husband being killed. I came to realize over the five days that I can let the pain and grief go, but keep Paul forever in my heart. Change my beliefs – change my life. Now I see a future, I used to think my life was over. This is indeed a place for miracles for it has given me and my two boys back our lives. It’s time to be happy! The best week ever – thanks guys. I felt loved and secure being amongst the other participants – some will be friends forever.

Linda McGinn

Mom, Scotland

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