This is the continuation of the original blog, Grieving Awake: Embodied Grief, Part 1
Turning Toward Grief
What does it look like to drop into our grief? What does it look like to allow ourselves to grieve in a fully embodied way?
Tears are like a soothing balm in grief. When we avoid feeling our grief we often hold our breath, because holding our breath helps us avoid dropping into our bodies. Noticing when our breathing is shallow and consciously allowing ourselves to take deep, slow breaths is one way to help facilitate the movement of grief through our body. Often tears will follow.
And with the tears comes the sobs that shake us to our core. The wails, the screams, the whimpers. Our body might shake, or tremble. Our arms might need to hit, our hands may need to squeeze. We might feel waves of panic, waves of rage, crying out “why?! WHY?! WHHYYYYY?!” Our knees might buckle, we might collapse onto the floor.
A year after Olive died, I attended a grief ceremony led by the late Sobonfú Somé. For three days I grieved with other people. It was incredibly healing for me to have grief normalized in this way. Before then I had never seen people release emotion so intensely in public, or even in private, for that matter.
But collectively, we have been taught that this kind of emotional intensity is pathological, something abnormal, something to be feared.… it's common to wonder, “Am I going crazy? Is there something wrong with me?”
Grief Comes in Waves
But these intense peaks of grief don’t last forever. There is an intelligence in our body that naturally titrates our experience. Our pain builds up, we need a release, and if we are able to relax into and allow ourselves to move our grief through our body, we experience a period of relative calm and peace afterward.
Surrendering to what our bodies need during times of grief is essential to allowing the grieving process to unfold. It is important to allow our grief, and other emotions as well, to move through our bodies. E-motions = energy in motion. That is all emotions are—energy that is constantly shifting and changing, like the weather, or clouds drifting across the sky.
Allowing grief to move through our bodies is how we survive loss that is otherwise so painful that it feels like might kill us.
Trusting the Process
I have come to deeply trust my body and deeply trust grief. It is a common fear that if we allow ourselves to fully surrender to the intensity of our pain that we will never stop crying, that we will not come out the other side, that we will be swallowed whole by the immensity of our sorrow and might actually die from the pain.
But this is simply not true. In fact, the opposite is true: it is the avoidance of fully feeling our grief that threatens to swallow us up and drown us in pervasive sorrow.
In a society and culture that fears intense emotions, and therefore, fears grief; in a society and culture that fears aging, change of all kinds, and death; in a culture and society that has no mature, seasoned wisdom to offer about how to mindfully and consciously grieve, we NEED permission to fully experience and express our grief (our love) for what we have lost.
And as always, it’s important to remember that grief is different for everyone. For some people grief will be a quieter process, maybe even one without tears. More often than not, grief will ebb and flow. Sometimes feeling overwhelming, sometimes feeling tame. These natural rhythms are to be honored. Your body is intelligent, it can be trusted to lead the way.
Journal Prompts for Further Reflection
- How does grief feel in your body? What area of the body do you feel it the most? It is a dull ache? Sharp pain? Hollowness?
- How do you know when you need to cry? How does your body send you that message?
- What happens to your breathing when you cry? Does it get shallow? Do you hold you breath? What happens if you consciously take fuller, deeper breaths?
- What messages and modeling did you get in childhood regarding “proper” expression of grief, sadness, or crying?
- What do you need when you grieve? Time to be alone? To be with someone supportive?
- What are your biggest fears when it comes to grief and loss?
Looking for an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Do you need a safe, supportive place to grieve? Do you want to heal your relationship with your emotions or your body?
My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing grief and bereavement counseling, along with therapy for highly sensitive adults, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for anxiety, and therapy for codependency.
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Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!