How to set boundaries in your grief journey.

With loss of any kind, there are things to take care off after the event. With a death in the family, you may find yourself with a never-ending list of to-dos. With a death of a parent, you may that these tasks are divided among the surviving adult children and possibly their spouses.

Yet, there may be times when you find yourself laden with new responsibilities, even before you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, as I myself experienced recently.

How do you deal with overstepped boundaries in a situation when everyone is grieving?

People who cross the line periodically and habitually are called ‘boundary bullies’. They disregard your personal boundaries, making you feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed, or even unsafe.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss why it’s important to identify your own boundaries, how to do it, how to establish boundaries with others, and what the outcome is for setting good boundaries in your grief journey.

Boundaries and yoga wisdom.

Personal boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves and others, based on our needs, values, and personal preferences. Think of the value of “ahimsa” – one of the Yamas from the Yoga Sutras, or non-violence.

In a broader sense, ahimsa means “universal love and compassion.” Practice of ahimsa involves refraining from causing physical and psychological pain to any living being. Ahimsa is forgiveness, divine love and sacrifice. Ahmisa, in short, is being non-violent in thought and action, in body and soul.


Refraining from causing physical and psychological pain to any living being includes yours (coz you are a living being). If you think about it, it also is practise of ahimsa towards those who overstep your boundaries, just in case you blow up and say things or do things that may cause violence to the boundary bullies.

Understanding boundaries and their importance.

When it comes to boundaries, you may want to reflect on:

  1. What your preferences are
  2. What your limits are
  3. What your deal-breakers are

Many people aren’t schooled or literate in boundary setting. I know I wasn’t, and for that reason I found myself burdened often with duties and responsibilities thrown on to me at the last moment – especially within my own direct family.

Rather than allowing resentment to grow within you, it’s best to reflect and start setting your own boundaries. Boundaries are important because they help us maintain our physical and emotional wellbeing, build healthy relationships, and make informed decisions.

When you identify your boundaries and communicate them, you are practising two of the Yamas:

  1. Ahimsa / Non-violence – when anger, resentment, unhappiness or any negative emotion builds up in you, it is a violence to self. Not forgetting that when a boundary bully crosses the line, they are perpetrating violence to you (and you’re allowing it!);
  2. Satya / Truth – by communicating your preferences, limits and deal-breakers, you are speaking your truth. If you wait until your resentment or anger builds, you may end up expressing your boundaries in. a manner which is ‘violent’ – if at least in words or emotions.

So don’t wait. Communicate what works for you.

Tips for identifying your boundaries.

Identifying your personal boundaries can be challenging, especially if you’re used to prioritising other people’s needs and wants over your own. In times of grief, things seem even more complicated and you may feel inclined ‘to help’ even when you yourself are totally drained.

The best thing to do is to start by reflecting on your feelings and needs in different situations.

As mentioned above, think about about what you may consider:

  1. Your preferences
  2. Your limits
  3. Deal-breakers

Ask yourself what makes you feel uncomfortable or disrespected. Consider your values and what is important to you. This can help you establish clear boundaries that align with your personal beliefs and goals.

Think also about the people in your life. Who are the people who consistently overstep your boundaries? Remember that your life and the time you have is special and the people you allow in your lifehave a privilege. Who deserves that privilege?

Spend some time reflecting on this. Journal on this may be helpful. Seek positive affirmations in your meditation to help you bolster the strength you have within.

Journal Prompts For Grief.

Journaling can help to manage anxiety reduce stress and cope with depression in your grief journey. Journaling also helps with prioritising problems, fears, and concerns. If you find yourself at a loss on how to journal in your grief, here are a few prompts to help you get started.

Satya – Communicating your truth to set and maintain boundaries.

Once you’ve identified your boundaries, it’s important to communicate them clearly to others. Think of satya – also a Yama from the Yoga Sutras.

Satya is considered essential for a balanced and harmonious existence in the universe. When truthfulness is present, the universe operates in the way that it should. Everything in the world depends on satya to function correctly.


If you – like me – have all this while been boundary illiterate, communicating this may be difficult.

This is why cultivating the right mindset is important. Spend some time in meditation, reflection and work on your self-care to get in the right frame of mind for when you communicate it to the boundary bullies.

You may perhaps wish to use assertive communication, which involves stating your needs clearly and firmly, while also being respectful of the other person’s feelings. You may need to say “no” or set limits, and it’s important to stick to these boundaries even when others try to push back.

When you do communicate, try to keep in mind the four virtues of yoga – maitri, karuna, mudita, upekshanam – or friendship, compassion, pure joy and equanimity. Perhaps, mudita or joy is less relevant, but you could keep the next thing in mind.

Approach the person with friendliness, express what you need to with compassion (to yourself and to the recipient). Accept what the person’s response with equanimity.

To learn more, check out Terri Cole‘s Setting Boundarieeed to s Challenge on the Insight Timer app.

Benefits of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.

Perhaps it’s better to establish and maintain healthy personal boundaries, before there is an occasion of grief or loss. However, if needs must, establishing boundaries even while in loss or bereavement has many benefits.

It can help you build stronger and more respectful relationships, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall wellbeing. When you set clear boundaries, you also set clear expectations for others, which can prevent misunderstandings and conflict, which may occur in times of loss and grief more than at other times.

You also have spent some time discovering your own truth (a niyama – ‘svadhyaya’ or ‘self-study’), and expressing it to others. That can only be a good thing, when expressed in a respectful manner.

Finally, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries can help you feel more empowered and in control of your life.

Get the respect you deserve.

Setting and maintaining healthy personal boundaries is essential for maintaining your emotional and physical wellbeing, building strong relationships, even in times of grief.

By identifying your own boundaries, communicating them clearly, and sticking to them even when others push back, you can protect yourself from boundary bullies and create a space for healing in your grief, and later on a more fulfilling life.

Remember that you need to respect yourself before others will give you the respect you deserve.

I hope you have benefitted from this blog post. Please do check out Terri Cole’s resources on Insight Timer, or her book ‘Boundary Boss‘, or contact me if you’d like to work on setting boundaries in your grief.

P.S. You may also like Keziah Gibbons ‘Safe Boundaries’ on Insight Timer (listen to it here).

* Recently, I experienced a tremendous deal-breaker of boundary overstepping. Because of this, I decided to join up a Boundaries Challenge on the Insight Timer app by Terri Cole. I have decided to share what I learnt with a bit of yoga wisdom to help you manage your boundaries (at least better than I did – up to now).

The Mindful Mornings

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If your days are fraught with stress and anxiety, this mini-course is for you!

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