The word grief has an impact on the deepest parts of our being. Yet grief is an emotion that, for many, is glossed over in exchange for “moving on” in life. In the past few years I have experienced major grief. Amidst the intensity of coping with grief and keeping up with day-to-day living, I find myself pondering: “How are all these people walking around with a mass of grief inside and looking so normal?”

In my practice as a wholistic doctor, I often see where a person’s grief is residing in their body. Untended or unexpressed, grief can accumulate into a manifestation of illness. Virtually any illness can have a root in grief just as readily as having a root in a microbe or a gene or a physical trauma. Often grief can be the underlying cause of a pain that has no other explanation or known cause. It can be a well disguised creator of dis-ease.

Grief has a life of its own and a timing to be honored. In my professional opinion grief must be felt in order to be integrated into the new structure of one’s life. When the grief is worked through and experienced, something new will take its place. There must be room for that “something new”. And I believe it is the process of grieving that makes space for the new.

People experience their grief in many different ways and there is no “right” way to do it.

Consider making time to be with yourself with the love and tenderness you would want to provide for someone dear to you. Let that dear one be you. Give yourself a warm candlelit bath, a walk in nature, time at the beach, a cup of tea or a glass of wine by the fireside, lingering with a sunset that calls your attention. How many ways might allow you to just “be” and “feel”, if you leave an opening for them? How much freedom can be attained from a good cry or writing a poem or painting a picture, expressing your feelings? How much comfort can come from talking with a true friend? How much relief can be born from appreciating the things that no one can take from you, your very dear heart and soul?

A writing exercise to help you get in touch with your grief (or any emotion):

Dedicate 10 minutes to exploring your own current issues with grief (or fill in the blank for any emotion you want to visit). Sit down without distraction and with a timer, paper and pen. Sit back and close your eyes. Take a few long, deep breaths. When you’ve breathed long enough to feel relaxed, allow the word “grief” to appear in your minds’ eye. Open your eyes and set the timer for 3 minutes. Without censoring yourself, write all the words that come to mind when you begin with the word “grief”. After 3 minutes is up, go back and mark the ten words that seem most potent. Then time yourself for another three minutes to write a story using your words in the sequence in which they appear in your list. You see, from the short periods of time suggested, that you are not “thinking” about what you are writing. You are simply allowing the words to come on to the paper with no censoring whatsoever. You can then use what you’ve produced for reflection and insight or throw it away with only ten minutes “lost” to your day. This little writing project can be helpful for revealing hidden feelings’ you might have in any aspect of your life. I hope you try it again and again.

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