I hear the voice of Charlie Brown and all of his friends saying this over and over again in my memory. It’s funny but I think the words got lost somehow in my mind and took on some other sort of understanding, like saying, “oh boy”, or “gee-whilikers”, or maybe that was just “Wah, Wah”.
Anyway, recently I have come to a new appreciation for those words “Good Grief”, and let me to tell you what a relief it has been.
Grief. What is it?
Here is a definition found through a Google search:
deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.
“she was overcome with grief”
sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, despair; More
mourning, mournfulness, bereavement, lamentation;
“he was overcome with grief”
Grief (seen through the lens of this definition, which is not unlike many others) has such a deep and dark, almost gravity, to it. This may be the reason so many of us struggle with allowing ourselves to go there. In this part of the world and in this culture, we are given a timeframe for our grief to begin and end. This time frame is usually allotted a very small window of days and once the last day is over we are expected to return to life the way it has always been. We jump right back into work, right back into the hustle and bustle, and we never look back. This happens over and over again as we grow older and lose more, which creates a pile of grief. We tell ourselves not to cry, not feel, and not to process what we have lost (even if we do not realize we are doing this), just by jumping on that band wagon again. For some of us there are big factors in why we do not allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling. For some it’s a financial burden and for others it is because we fear if we feel it we will be overtaken by it and never recover – and maybe some of us ARE in this place.
“Overwhelmed by grief”, as the definition reads, may be a very good reason for people jumping back into the swing of things because it seems we mostly choose one path or the other (moving on or getting stuck). I am sure most of us know someone (and maybe it is you), who are stuck in the mud of grief.
Maybe grief is a tool for transformation?
What if we saw grief as a good thing? What if grief is a message from our spirit expressing a place that needs healing and attention? What if we took the compassion we have in our hearts for others and turned it around towards ourselves and said, “There, there, dear heart. You have been through so much. Of course you have pain. Of course you feel sadness. You loved _____ SO much and they are still right here in your heart. It is safe for you to cry. It is ok for you to grieve. It is necessary for your healing.”
GOOD GRIEF. That is a thing. And it is necessary for YOUR healing.
One of the lessons my breathwork practice has taught me is that I have a well of grief within my soul. This may sound heavy or carry a negative feeling, but the beautiful thing about this practice is that it does not only reveal….it Heals. It has a way of bringing to light just what you need to see or understand about yourself, exactly when you need to because it IS YOU…the deepest parts of you.
Grief has many forms. The obvious forms are the loss of someone dear or of something with significant value in your life.
There is also the anticipated grief of losing someone (either partnered with the fear of it happening in the future someday) or due to an actual illness with a terminal prognosis.
There are also the not-so-obvious forms of grief that come in so many surprising forms, such as a desire we had that was never fulfilled, the loss of a company we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, losing parts of our creative selves because we don’t take the time to nourish these parts. The reason these areas may be a surprise to us is that we have pushed them down so deeply (because we just don’t want to feel them) that we do not even realize we have a well of grief growing inside of us.
Some Notes on My Personal Experience with Grief …
*In this well of grief is an ocean of unshed tears.
*There are memories of people I love and have lost.
*There is the anticipated grief (mixed with fear) of losing all that I love in my life (or some of it during my lifetime).
*There are fragments of my little self as a child, slinking back into the shy shadows and telling myself to be quiet. (Grief for not speaking up).
*There are ideas of the person I know that I am inside and the lies I told myself that kept me from growing into that person
*The separation of my parents and the grief that goes with heartbreak (collectively and my own).
*The loss of my beautiful and dear friend’s daughter to suicide.
*The memory of my uterine hemorrhage after my daughter was born and feeling like I was in a cloud her first 6 months. Then returning to work as fast as I could. Grieving over the feeling of missing out on life.
Anyway, you get the point. We have stuff. And it feels heavy when we go there, especially if we are just thinking and dwelling on old stuff.
The only trouble is those unshed tears and unprocessed grief just come out in other forms if we don’t go in and feel it and honor it and allow it to be seen and heard.
Suddenly we feel anxious or cranky. We find ourselves feeling like we are on a fast ride and we can’t get off. We pull out every excuse as to why we are “stressed out”. We say we are too busy, too overbooked, have too much we need to do, places we just have to go, people who NEED us, etc. All the while our ship is taking on the water of our unshed tears…and the weight of our unprocessed emotional baggage and we are going down!
This has been a big area of healing for me and I guess you may have noticed, but for me this was a HUGE surprise! I had NO idea all of the above was pocketed away in the fibers of my body and hiding within my heart. I thought I had it all together, that life was a gift, and that I had everything in the world to be grateful for. All of that is true -BUT- I am going to tell you something that no one ever told me (maybe because no one ever told them):
It is OK to process your Grief. Grief IS a process.
I encourage you to say those words aloud to yourself, “It is OK for me to process my grief”.
Processing means however long that takes and in whatever form you need to express it (as long as it does no harm to yourself or others). You may need to cry, write in your journal about it, create a piece of artwork, throw material items away (or donate them), release butterflies into the air, or whatever helps you push those emotions outside of yourself.
Breathwork healing is the practice that has brought me into the place where I finally felt safe enough to dig deep within and to connect to myself.. This was the key which began a true and tangible healing journey for me. I remember doing my breathwork practice within a group setting and the person who was working with me noticed I was not breathing very deeply into my heart/chest area. I had also felt the tightness myself, feeling like I couldn’t breathe up into that space when moments earlier I had been. As I began to send more breath and more awareness to what was happening in my physical heart, I whispered to my spirit heart inside and said, “Why are you so tight?” It was almost an immediate answer that I heard. A voice deep inside me said, “You are afraid.” I whispered back, “What are you so afraid of?” The voice answered, “You are afraid of losing everyone you love”. And with that I was sent a surge of flashbacks from an accident I had been in with my sister (nearly 20 years ago), where I thought she had died (thank GOD she survived). Then I heard, “It is ok to grieve now”. And I cried and cried and cried and let out every bitter emotion that had been hanging on waiting to be let out. I then felt my heart (physically and spiritually), soften. My breath deepened and filled by chest and I felt it open up even a fraction more. That experience gave me so much insight into the power of the breath and just how deeply it connects with our spirits. It also showed me how much our physical bodies hold onto our emotions/stresses and how toxic it can be if we hold onto it all.
Breathwork enables us to let go of the thought process and move out of the head/mind, where we can come into a place where we connect with our spirits and bodies on another level of consciousness. It is a powerful tool, used to shift stuck, tight, and painful energy/memories/emotions/beliefs systems. We feel things loosen and begin to move, and as they do, we are given more clarity as to what these things may be. You literally feel your burden get a little lighter and feel it shift and often move from your body.
It is my belief that our spirits ride on our breath (into our bodies when we are born and out of our bodies at death). This breathwork technique has given me a connection to my heart, body and spirit in a way I have never known. Through breathwork I have released layers of anxiety, anger, fear, and grief and with each layer I feel myself growing more and more into the person I am meant to be.
If you are looking for a way to live more fully in the present moment, this practice has proven to be a powerful way to do just that. This is because it frees you from old baggage, scoops off layers of stress or junk you may have gathered during your lifetime, and literally excavates and restores your emotional blueprint.
The only way to move on is through.
You have carried so much for so long.
Give yourself a healthy dose of good grief and find release through breathwork healing.