Don't bear the burden alone - allow it space to express in company in order to heal
Dealing with loss can be traumatic, no matter what that loss is. Whether you're experiencing the death of a loved one or a pet, the end of a relationship or a marriage, the loss of a job or the closing of an important chapter in life, it does not matter. Whatever it is that's brought everything crashing down, it can leave you feeling reeling, disoriented and helpless in your ability to deal with anything in the face of it.
The need to grieve is wholesome and when done together allows us to go through the process and come out the other side. The saying goes "time heals all wounds" but the truth is that we need to provide space for those wounds to heal and this cannot be done alone.
Alchemy and the sound of Grief
Grief needs to be experienced and expressed in order to shift. For unless we give it space it will weigh heavily upon our chest like a burden as heavy as stone. As the word e-motion (energy-in-motion) signifies, it needs to move. Unexpressed grief is like stagnant water, it's heavy and deep and holds enormous amounts of energy that need to shift for life to regain its joyousness once again. Essentially that body of grief is an enormous reserve wanting to be transmuted. And it is precisely this that we will do, as we allow it to gently come into motion by creating a space that acknowledges the value and wisdom in doing just that.
The ancient practice of attempting to transmute matter into precious metals such as gold, was known as alchemy. I've come to experience alchemy as a metaphor for healing pain and transmuting any so called negative emotions into compassion, love and joy. It requires the ingredients of awareness, profound acceptance, facing the sensations in your body, trust and lots and lots of patience.
Allowing ourselves to become vocal in grief enables the burden held in the body to find expression and to be lifted. Through wailing, sound waves that connect to the frequency of anguish held in your body can begin to transmute. As they move through the body and outward they create space and relief inside as the burden begins to lift. Very much like the analogy of the ripples that extend outward from a stone dropped into a pond. Giving expression to grief can enable expansion and relief.
A note of caution and Pendulation
As previously mentioned in What My Work Is Not I need to express that I'm weary of catharsis and cathartic approaches. In these circles it is of utmost importance that you stay true to yourself and your inner responses. It is not about trying to be something, or do something or expressing grief vocally if you do not feel the desire. It is perfectly okay to come and simply be together with no need to talk or anything.
As Somatic Experiencing I too very much value and work with pendulation. This means being able to dip into a feeling or sensation and be able to come out of it again a will. By doing this we slowly regulate any charge, piece by piece, giving ample time for solid integration. Becoming flooded with sensation can be re-traumatizing hence we will check in regularly.
A Lost Culture of Grief
Different cultures have different rituals to deal with grief. Unfortunately western culture avoids grief and has pretty much done away with traditions surrounding mourning leaving us with an attitude of "get over it". This not only means that we get left alone in our grief which significantly ads to the burden but instead also struggle with the mourning process being judged as something that is wrong, something we should be over.
"Professional mourning or paid mourning is an occupation that originates from Egyptian, Chinese, Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures. Professional mourners, also called moirologists, are compensated to lament or deliver a eulogy and help comfort and entertain the grieving."
Many Faces of Grief
Grief can be scary as it envelops us, threatening to swallow us into the gaping abyss of the unknown, as we desperately cling to the fragility of life.
Grief can bring up rage at the injustice of life, filling us with righteous indignation at the unfairness, and helplessness of having been deceived.
Grief can disguise as guilt, express as cynicism or hide in stoicism, in short it has many faces. There is no right or wrong simply your experience as it seeks fulfillment in its truth, going through waves and cycles.
Once grief unlocks we can find ourselves grieving other, past experiences that are seeking completion too.
The hidden gift of Grief
Acceptance is different from resignation in that it holds peace and the ability to be with what is. By allowing the process of mourning we grow in our ability to accept what is while we develop profound compassion. This is the gift of grief. It is calm and vast, expansive and peaceful all at once. And, when transmuted we emerge more whole, stronger and wiser in our ability to love and live.
The Sound of Grief
Mini Group in Central London