Processing Grief through Breath and Movement

It’s hard to know where to start when facing the trauma of losing a baby. Physical movement can help. 

There are things we can control, for the most part. For example, the way we move, the way we breathe, and the way we nourish our bodies can all be managed, organized, and scheduled. When it comes to loss, trauma, and grief – there are many things that feel outside of our control. 

As a certified meditation teacher, breath coach, and a trained bereavement doula, I work with clients to help support their grief, trauma, and healing process through meditation and conscious breathwork. Over the years I have provided one-on-one mentorship and group workshops for women and their partners to guide them as they navigate the emotional landscape of loss. Through my work with mothers in various stages (pregnancy, postpartum, and loss) I have seen firsthand the power of bringing mindfulness to the healing process. 

We live in a world where it is easier to energetically hold one another - to leave space to hear one another - but it can be difficult to hear our own stories and process our own experiences. Through movement, meditation, and breathwork we can hear ourselves a little more loudly, a little more clearly, and jumpstart the healing process.

Our bodies know stress and anger in ways we don’t fully comprehend until we physically feel the side effects. This emotional burden might make our immune system start to crash and we might begin to feel ill or become prone to injury. As stress and anxiety spill over, our bodies begin to physically react to the emotional weight we carry. 

So what can we do about the things we cannot control? We can: 

  • Allow ourselves to feel. 

  • Give ourselves permission to fully be present. 

  • Allow ourselves to share our stories, to be seen, and to see those with similar stories. 

We can exhale the grief.

Exhaling the grief is to not forget. The expectation shouldn’t be to release it from our bodies entirely, because the truth is it will always be there. Exhaling our grief gives us the opportunity to acknowledge where we are, who we are, and where we have come from. Exhaling the grief allows us to move through the waves of this raw, powerful, and heavy spiritual experience. 

As our bodies process loss, our mind tries to navigate emotions that we feel we cannot speak of publicly. Healing is often buried in the details of an experience that we feel society will not let us share. Topics that we don’t want to talk about because we are afraid of being labeled “different” or, even worse, we fear that someone will find out the “truth”- the false “truth” that only we believe: that this is somehow our fault.

How to begin processing grief through movement 

Physical and emotional “movement” has various therapeutic properties when it comes to managing trauma. Meditation and conscious breathwork are two ways we support our emotional healing process. Traditional movement gives us the opportunity to pass through the trauma and digest it, even momentarily. We can reflect on our pain on the inhale – as the emotions we internalize – and the movement on the exhale – what we need to release and express.

I encourage you to find a way to process trauma both physically and mentally. To begin conscious breathwork, simply start becoming aware of your breath cycle and how that makes you feel.

This can be done by:

  • Taking note of how heavy you’re breathing when you are emotionally triggered.

  • Slowing down your breath with a deep inhale. Then lengthen your exhale. 

  • Becoming self-aware.

  • Giving yourself permission to acknowledge how you are feeling.

Know you deserve to feel. Know it’s okay to not be okay. This is not your fault. Know you deserve to be heard - especially internally. 

When pairing physical exercise with conscious breathwork, allow yourself to be fully present and organically move through your emotions - going for a walk, intuitively dancing, or even a high-power workout releases endorphins and allows you to process the moment more deeply. As we release endorphins, our sympathetic nervous system kicks on and puts us in a state of fight or flight. Conscious breathwork supports the nervous system by slowing it down and encouraging physical and mental recovery.

I suggest starting and finishing your workout with breathing techniques designed to promote emotional awareness. 

  1. Before your workout: ‘Breath of Fire’ (3 rounds of 20 emphasized exhales, pausing in between each round). 

  2. After your workout: A gentle ‘4x4’ technique (10 rounds of breathing in at a count of 4 and exhaling at a count of 4). 

We might not be able to control everything that happens to us but we do have a choice about how we internalize and share our experiences. I don’t wish loss and heartbreak on anyone. Unfortunately, miscarriages (10-20% of all pregnancies) and other complications that result in losing a baby happen way too often. 

It is up to us to determine how we create awareness not only externally, but internally as well. The gift of conscious breathwork and intentional movement allows us to not only write the pages of our story but gives us the opportunity to process them so we read them out loud.


Emily Fenger is a Mindfulness Coach and Founder of Mindful Mamas Integrative Wellness, which incorporates her various training and certifications in integrative wellness, meditation, breathwork, and reiki. Emily is also a trained birth and bereavement doula with Still Birthday. Emily brings mindfulness to all chapters of motherhood - from pregnancy, postpartum, as well as loss. 

Emily is passionate about bringing mindfulness to the whole family and providing space for all voices to be heard. She offers in-person and virtual 1:1 mindfulness coaching sessions and group workshops. In her spare time, Emily enjoys meditating, working out, writing, hiking, and spending time exploring with her husband, their daughter, and their four-legged companion, Ziggy. 

More information about Emily and her services can be found here:

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