Love Will Find A Way Through Grief
A myriad of thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical symptoms show up when grief is lingering beneath the surface. We are quick to notice the criticism, guilt, anger, blame, fear, and physical symptoms or ailments. Yet, we're slow to recognize the source that gives each a persistent presence in our lives.
When grief presents itself, it’s easier to point a finger at other situations in our lives than to look our deep sadness in the eye. I had an opportunity to sit face-to-face with a big wave of grief this past week. I call it an opportunity because when all was said and done, I felt so much better. The truth is that I was holding onto so much grief that my body finally said, “no, I can’t take it anymore. I cannot take on one more ounce of anything.”
My grief had grown so big that, one way or another, it had to find its way out of my body. Either slowly over a long period of time, causing issues and destruction to my body, mind, and spirit, or there was another option. I could take the time to sit with it so that it could be released. And what it needed most was the love and attention it deserved.
My dear father passed away from Parkinson’s disease in October 2022, and last Tuesday, I started to experience what felt like a war inside my body. Constant back and stomach pain, persistent heartburn, and I was so miserable with waves of nausea that I had no appetite. I think grief is the most physically painful and uncomfortable emotion, and causes humans to stay busy and do anything they can to avoid feelings of deep sadness.
On Monday this week, I woke up to the persistent nausea and pain. I decided to do a guided meditation on compassion. As I listened, a voice in my headphones instructed me to tune in to an emotion. I focused on sadness, and it was as if Grief heard her name and immediately presented herself. Suddenly, there was tension in my throat, which turned to pain. My face scrunched up. Pressure and pain washed over my eyes, and tears started to roll down my cheeks. And my back and stomach felt tense with even more discomfort.
The gentle voice instructed me to feel my body's physical sensations, and it took effort to stay focused on the pressure, tension, and pain. It then guided me to bring in compassion for myself and the experience as I felt my feelings. I allowed myself to feel the agony in my body. And instead of resisting and fighting it by unconsciously tensing my fists, arms, shoulders, and chest, I accepted and allowed it to be there. I relaxed my jaw and softened into the sharp pain as if I was getting comfy on the sofa with a favorite book. I didn't armor up and close my heart with resistance; I tried to keep my heart open with love, affection, acceptance, and appreciation for Grief as she showed me how terrible she felt.
I allowed her to be there and permitted her to stay for as long as she needed. I sat with her and shared words of loving-kindness, and instead of being consumed by the pain, I observed it. Being there with the agony felt safe because I had compassion through my experience. Although it felt really uncomfortable, it didn’t feel like I was at war anymore. There was a sense of calm and relief because the battle of resistance was over.
The experience that morning felt different from the previous few days. I had shifted my view of it by giving Grief a name and wanted to get to know her. I was curious, intentional, and present. And after a few minutes, the waves of nausea slowly subsided. Instead of being overwhelmed with fear that it would never end, I suddenly felt a sense of peace wash over me.
The icy pain that had become more robust just moments before started to feel warm and melted away. It was as if Grief needed to show someone the pain before it could be released, like a child showing you a ladybug or frog they picked up in the garden. And as quickly as she showed me her pain, and I welcomed it in, she found her way out of my body. She didn’t want to stay to be a bother; she just wanted to be seen, welcomed, and honored.
Is it possible that it’s this simple? Less than 29 minutes of offering unconditional love, attention, and appreciation to something that felt like a monster inside me, and suddenly it was gone. Grief’s pain needed to be seen and accepted instead of resisted and criticized. By the end of the meditation, my stomach didn’t hurt as much, the heartburn was gone, and the backache had disappeared. It may be hard to believe it happened, but it did.
Grief needed my undivided time and attention to show me the extent and intensity of her pain. I responded with loving-kindness, and instead of resisting or escaping the pain, I stayed relaxed and present. I didn't fight it, find a distraction, or fall asleep. I allowed myself to be present without trying to fix it or think my way to a better place. I stayed with the experience and felt the deep, heartbreaking sadness with acceptance and love, remembering that it wouldn't last forever and that I could get through it.
The past ten days have reminded me that self-compassion and respect for this season and all that I am experiencing are needed the most. Grief is complex and messy, and I think I have arrived at the point where I'm willing to change clothes and jump into the muddy puddle of grief. I've decided to wear a sweater of warm love, plants of respect and dignity, and boots of courage. If you're journeying alongside me on a similar journey of loss, I hope that you take time each day to choose an outfit that gives you the comfort and support you need and deserve.
Personal Development Training & Coaching
Specializing in Coherence & Communication
About the Author:
Monica Binger provides personal and professional development training and coaching to individuals and teams looking to improve communication and increase coherence so they'll have quality interactions and improve their work and personal success and well-being.
Please Note: It’s essential to make decisions that are best for you. The insights shared in my articles and blogs are my views and opinions and should not be construed as advice, recommendations, or fact. Just because something helped or worked for me doesn’t mean you should try it without external support and guidance. Please always remember to consult a mental health or medical professional or therapist if you have emotional or physical issues or concerns.