Grief is a natural consequence of loss. You’ve got to feel it, to heal it. Grief is the internal state of deep, dark, anguished feelings, thoughts and beliefs that live in the body and are a natural consequence of loss.
Loss may range from spilling coffee on yourself as you leave the house and thus losing the “put together look and feel for the day”, to losing out on a parking place, to your child losing their homework, or you misplacing your credit card, to losing your good credit rating, job, pet, life-long dream, spouse, parent, sibling or child
Recently a successful coach invited me for coffee after my presentation,“Grief Is Not A One-Size Fits All”. She confessed that what she had experienced as the sudden onset of “The Dark Night” (a recognizable dive into the vortex of depression that had lasted for three years) was actually grief.
My description of being “shattered” by my son, Reed’s sudden, violent death by suicide resonated in her bones. She finally recognized that she was shattered by the grief of her family’s rejection when she announced her decision to divorce a passive-aggressive man who they knew as prince charming. What she thought was “the Dark Night” was actually being pulled into the vortex of grief. For the past three years she was pushing against depression who’s root cause was actually the deep, dark anguished feelings of grief.
Grief may shatter our sense of self. The process of moving through it with Mindful Grieving and Intentional Mourning is an odyssey of Connection. Connection to the new person we will be. We may emerge transformed, a re-invention of our former self. Just like the caterpillar eats and eats and then spins a cocoon around itself, so we are cocooned in grief. The caterpillar turns to soup. It is no longer recognizable. Often we are no longer recognizable to our selves and others in this shattered “soupy” state. Just like imaginal cells begin to emerge in the caterpillar soup and connect together to form the butterfly that must beat its wings to emerge as the brilliant new creation, so too, we must do the work of grieving and mourning.
You’ve got to name it and claim it before you can learn from it. Time and time again, women arrive at the Trauma and Grief Relief event sent by a friend who recognizes the oblivion to grief of the participant. The woman in the circle simply does not know she is grieving. Grieving because her husband has mismanaged their money and suddenly not once, but three times, they were homeless. Grieving the loss of the dream of having a Bed and Breakfast.
Grief brings up the deepest parts of ourselves longing to be healed. There is also the person who attends because of a romantic break-up only to discover the grief she really is there to recognize and embrace is an old grief. The grief that shortly after her divorce both of her children within six months chose to live permanently with their dad. She was an empty-nester without warning.
It was THIS grief that had been pulling her down into its current for decades. Grief lives in the body. You’ve got to feel it to heal it.
Often it is the education that grief lives in the body and one must feel it to heal it, that illumines the source of the back, neck or shoulder pain. The body tells the Truth. When we know this and then learn to listen to the messages of the body, the pain often simply dissipates.
One participant had experienced severe shoulder pain after she asked her boyfriend to leave. Visits to her doctor and physical therapy were not resulting in any pain relief. Simply placing my hands on either side of her shoulder and asking her to notice the pressure and temperature of my hands. To notice her breathing. Become aware of the type of pain- sharp/dull, stabling/throbbing. Notice if moving into this connection with her shoulder is revealing an
image, a color, a sound or a word. She immediately had the images of her children float into her awareness. She burst into tears wailing” Oh, this pain is the pain of my children choosing to live with their father. Abandoning me decades ago.” I continued to cup my hands on the front and back of her left shoulder until the wailing subsided. I then slid my hands down her arm. Her eyes flew open and she said” The pain is gone!”
The heart has a front and back and pain in the back of the shoulder is often the pain of unrecognized/ named grief. When we recognize and name our grief we can begin to lean into it and no longer be overwhelmed by it.