Real healing, meaning the healing that we need, crave and desire is usually not cute.
It is often not sexy. It is often pretty ugly. And this really runs counter to the cute images of “healing” that we often see in social media and in the zeitgeist. Sometimes healing looks and feels like bathtubs or getting your nails done. Really that’s not usually healing-that’s maintenance.
I want to invite you to look at the deeper layer of what you believe about your own grief and healing and what you’ve been told. Because if we continue to believe that grief exists on a linear timeline, that it’s a time limited event and that it’s only in response to the death of a person-if we continue to believe these stories we’ve been fed which aren’t true, we really cut ourselves off from our healing potential.
Recently I attended a virtual full moon healing circle, and right at the beginning I started to feel an intense headache approaching a migraine. I didn’t know what the source was, but the pain was pretty intense. I knew that in this event, no one would judge me for just following what my body needed to do (I want to drop in here that we need to find spaces and communities and support that does this for us, because often it’s hard to give ourselves this permission.)
So I was feeling this headache and it was burning my head and I just kept being with the sensations, letting my body move as it needed to, and participating in the ritual. And then I went to the bathroom and my head was hot so I got in a cold shower for a few minutes because that’s what my body needed to do. I came back and continued to participate, and I started to feel really nauseous and to move in ways that were an attempt to support the pain in my head-holding and massaging my head and putting my forehead on the ground. Eventually I went to the bathroom and started to (thankfully) vomit, and let myself rest on the bathroom floor.
When the vomiting was complete, I was so out of it at that point that I knew I wasn’t in a place to continue participating, so I left and I just came to bed and I made a conscious decision to try to go to sleep, knowing that the pain was there but would not always be there. I woke up maybe 3 hours later and I was sleepy and my head was still hurting. I don’t know what the vomiting was about, but the why is not the point.
This is just one example of how our bodies communicate to us and the opportunity that is presented when they speak.
When the pain is so intense like that, there’s really no option but to listen.
I know that there are so many smaller ways that we ignore our bodies-little aches and pains and signs-and I invite you to get curious for yourself about how you respond to your pain.
How do you respond to your grief when your body is talking to you?
How able are you to be with the subtleties of the sensations as much as the big rocks, pangs and aches?
Getting comfortable with discomfort is a skill and an important way of being with yourself that you can develop. It is possible to start to stretch your edge and dance with your pain.
But how often do you let yourself do that? How often do you let yourself be with the ugliness of your own healing? And how often do you let yourself be witnessed in that?
These are not judgments, simply questions that I invite you take in as an invitation to be with your body as it is, as it moves, day to day and moment to moment.
Grieving is a moment to moment, cyclical, spiraling messy process. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and get lost in the questions of what will happen? When will it stop hurting? How long will this last?
But if we can slow down and be with our bodies in a day to day, moment to moment sense, then those questions start to become less important and relevant. Because there is no timeline on grief, there is no step-by-step process that will make your grief go away.
That’s not even the point.
The point is how lovingly and attentively can you sit with your pain and let it move you to do with what you need to do?
Sometimes that movement to do what you need to do will look like vomiting over the edge of a toilet, and stumbling to your bed to go to sleep and holding your own head while you rock off into dreamland, knowing that it won’t last forever.