In Part one of this series, we looked at how as a society we do everything possible to avoid feeling painful emotions: we ignore, push away, numb, deflect, project, anything to avoid the pain. We also saw how unresolved emotions can manifest in unwanted conditions and keep us from feeling the joy, happiness, and gratitude that is potentially waiting for us on the other side. We looked at the hot, fiery emotion of anger and ways to process it through the body, and today we are going to look at grief.
While anger is red hot, fiery, powerful and protective, grief is heavy, wet, and oh so painful. It can feel like an arrow in your heart. Whenever you lose something important in your life, it is natural to suffer grief. You may feel sad, devastated, lonely, lost, empty, weak, helpless, depressed, or even suicidal. All of these are faces of grief.
While grief is most strongly associated with the loss of a loved one, there are many other possibilities for loss. It can be helpful to acknowledge specifically what you are grieving. For example, at the end of a relationship, you might not just be grieving the loss of the person in your life, but the loss of your home, your future plans, your financial security, your status as a couple or family, or time with your kids. In the case of a job it might not just be your livelihood but your purpose, your work community, your status, etc. The individual losses may be big or small, but it helps to name them.
While you may have been taught somewhere along the way that crying is a sign of weakness, it is the body’s natural way of releasing grief. Often in EFT sessions, clients quickly become in touch with sadness and tears spontaneously flow. Many are surprised and some are at first embarrassed, especially men who have been given the message that real men don’t cry. After a good cry, however, most everyone experiences a tremendous sense of relief and is surprised at how much the tears help.
While anger likes powerful, strong fiery movement, water is grief’s natural healer. If tears do not come, water can still be used to soothe sadness. Here are some ideas:
- Soak in a warm bath, Jacuzzi, or float tank.
- Rest a warm water bottle over your heart or wherever the sadness feels stuck.
- Drink lots and lots of water to hydrate your body and allow the sadness to flow through.
When you are grieving a loss and saying good-bye, it is also good to find healthy closure. Here are some ideas:
- Write a good-bye letter to all that you have lost: your love, your home, your livelihood, your community, your future plans, etc.
- Create an altar and/or light a candle to honor who/what you have lost
- If you are on decent terms with someone you are separating from, create a ceremony of closure. My ex-husband and I had a ceremony where we returned our wedding rings to each other and put them in little boxes I had bought for the purpose. It was not the joyful occasion of our wedding, but it brought a peaceful sense of closure to our marriage.
While on the other side of anger is passion, joy, enthusiasm and a zest for life, on the other side of grief is connection, compassion, and peace. As we connect with and move through our grief, we learn to embrace our vulnerability, which opens us up to experience life more fully. Deeply processing painful feelings can be uncomfortable, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
In the next post we will look at the darkest emotion: shame.