by Board Member, Jill Hochman

This article is about Reiki and coping with grief. It is part of the Hope for Widow’s Foundation efforts to help our Hope Sisters find ways to learn to cope with and manage their grief.

I find that Reiki can help me cope when I get in one of those waves of grief or am having stress over some everyday type of concern. I will try to explain what Reiki is, what it is not, what a Reiki treatment is like, and talk about how I believe it helps me deal with grief or other stressors. As a certified Reiki Karuna Master,I try to practice Reiki in a responsible way by not making promises or claims about miraculous healing powers. I focus instead on use of Reiki to bring good energy into our world and I use it to help cope with grief and stress.

I intend for this article is to be a very general explanation about Reiki along with some comments about my personal practice and experience. You can find lots of information on the web or perhaps through Reiki healers in your area. Feel free to private message me with any questions you might have and I will try my best to answer or send you in a helpful direction.

First , What is Reiki?

According to the International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP), “Reiki is [a] subtle and effective form of energy healing using spiritually guided life force energy… [p]racticed in every country of the world.” While often considered to be spiritual in nature, Reiki is not “[a]ffiliated with any particular religion or religious practice.”

Reiki is a way to help calm your mind and to deal with stress. Reiki has five basic principles. I use these principles everyday as affirmations. They are:

Just for today, do not be angry
Just for today, do not worry
Just for today, be grateful
Just for today, work hard
Just for today, be kind to others.

The principles are my mantra. Not only do I tell them to myself each morning, I repeat them when I need to ground myself or when I feel the need to help people or animals who are in stress. The words in the principles illustrate how Reiki does not harm and has everything to do with setting positive intentions. Kind of like karma, the principles remind me that it is good to be positive and send out positive thoughts. Please know that it is not easy for me to be positive but practicing Reiki means that I try. So using Reiki becomes one of the ways to help me cope with my grief as well as grief experienced by others.

What Reiki is Not?

Understanding what Reiki is not is important. This is because there are many misconceptions about Reiki and opinions about it based on misconceptions. To know if Reiki can be useful to you, a basic understanding of what Reiki is as well as what it isn’t can help you decide.

Most importantly, Reiki is NOT a religion nor is it a replacement for medical treatment. Nor is Reiki a process to transfer energy from one person to another.

How Does Reiki Work?

Reiki works on the theory that we all have energy centers in our body. These are called chakras and are the same as the chakras that are used in yoga. The 7 major chakras are located along your body from the very top of your head to the base of your spine. The chakras each have a connection to our emotions. The chakras and their emotional relationship are:

The Crown — connection to spirituality
Third Eye — ability to focus, connects to intuition, imagination, wisdom and decisions
Throat — connection to our ability to communicate
Heart — love, inner peace, joy
Solar Plexus — self-confidence, esteem and self-worth
Sacral — sense of pleasure and sexuality
Root — survival issues

When the energy in these centers is aligned, then we feel our best. If one or more of them is blocked or the energy is unbalanced, then we do not feel right. Reiki works to bring the energy flowing through our chakras into alignment. Repeating the 5 principles helps put us in a spiritual place where the energy can more easily flow in balance.

What is a Reiki Treatment Like?

Reiki treatments can be done in person or can be sent to people in need. The later is called distance Reiki.

If you get a Reiki treatment in person, you will lay down or sit comfortably so that you can try to relax. You remain fully clothed and the practitioner should not touch you unless they have your permission. Soft music may be playing similar to what is played when you get a massage. The practitioner will move their hands over you and use symbols which they draw in the air, on their own hands, or maybe even on the roof of their mouth with their tongues. Each symbol has specific uses and are — at least in theory — secret. But, you can go to the internet and find them as well as explanations of their use(s). Treatments times depend on your practitioner as well as what they feel needs to be done. Some practitioners may place crystals on you or near you and some may use drums or crystal bowls during your treatment. Treatments do not hurt and you usually leave feeling relaxed. This is a good thing even if you are not totally healed.

If you get distance Reiki, you are not in the presence of the practitioner. Instead they are sending you Reiki. When you hear a Reiki practitioner say something like “sending you healing or calming light”, they are sending you Reiki. To be fair, a practitioner should ask if sending Reiki is ok with you before sending. This is because a Reiki practitioners respect the fact that there are people who and religions which do not accept the practice. If a Reiki practitioner does not know when Reiki is ok to send, they may say something like “surrounding you with calming thoughts or light.” This similar to sending prayers or positive thoughts to the person and is intended for the highest good.

How does Reiki Help Grief:

You can find lots of information on the web about Reiki and grief. Instead of repeating that here, I will give my thoughts which come from my own experience.

I was a Reiki practitioner before my husband became sick. So, I used Reiki on him. But, I gave Reiki up when he died because I felt as if it did not save my husband. The facts are that nothing except a miracle could have saved him. Reiki is not a replacement for medicine — it is a complement to it. As time went by, I went for a Reiki treatment because of the overwhelming sadness I was feeling. And, you got it: I cried the whole time. The good news was that I was finally able to sleep for 4 hours straight that night and the next. This much needed rest helped me get through making some big financial decisions. So, I took up my practice once again and went for more treatments. I also treated a few people at a local Reiki Share.

I also began once again to use the 5 principles each morning in the shower — please don’t laugh as this beats crying in the shower. Repeating them helps set me up to better face the day. I also use Reiki when I read many of our Hope Sisters’ posts. In my mind, I surround those Hope Sisters with calm and light. Although I don’t know for sure if this helps them, it helps me to know I have done something, albeit small, to help. Sending out positive energy and intentions helps me feel better. When I find myself drowning in grief, I will think of positive light and energy and place my hands over my Heart or my Solar Plexus chakras. I let myself feel the energy and believe it helps get me through the tidal waves that hit. So, Reiki has become one of my coping mechanisms. Maybe it can help you too.


Jill Hochman is a retired US Federal Senior Executive. Jill worked at the US Department of Transportation for 34 years. She wrote the first ever standard for licenses for drivers of big trucks and busses. Much of her career was spent bringing people together to facilitate and improve safety and transportation project planning.

Jill met her husband Charlie at work while waiting for a bus and they were married for almost 35 years. Shortly after retiring, Charlie died from cancer in August of 2014. He was diagnosed just 3 weeks before passing and Jill was not prepared to be a widow with all her retirement years ahead– much less be a single mom to a twenty year old son.

Since taking on this completely unplanned widow/single mom role,Jill joined the University of Maryland Legacy Leadership Program in the School of a Public Health, created a fund in her husband’s name to provide food at her city’s interfaith food pantry, and brings to widows positive intentions and healing energy through her work as a Master Reiki Healer.