Grief Reveals You

Hey there friends,

So, I’m drinking hot cocoa in JULY and listening to the sound of raindrops and thunder while I recover from the recent flooding.

My drive to work every day takes me past the Conewago creek where a childhood friend recently drowned in the flood. Last week, I would watch out my windshield as a black hawk helicopter would slowly fly over the flooded trails in the fog and rain.

This week in the fog and rain, I wait for details regarding her celebration of life.

Photo courtesy of Google Photos
Needless to say, I’ve been pretty rattled by her death.

But, one of the things that I have learned/am learning about grief is how important it is to allow one’s body to mourn.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It
 reveals you.”
 – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
This past year, I have mourned the passing of two biological relatives, a grandmother and aunt, and the passing of my father’s aunt. Each journey of grief is different, and, for the most part, I have felt each loss at a different place in my body.

Sometimes, I feel it like a punch in the gut. Sometimes, I feel it in my ears. Sometimes, I feel it in my chest. The whole body grieves and mourns in its own way. And, in different ways. And that is okay.

But, for me, the practice of healing through mourning relies, pretty consistently, on a series of small practices. So, while I missed Flashback Friday and even Makeup Monday, I wanted to share with you 4 practices that have helped sustain and fortify me when I grieve.

Photo Courtesy of Google Photos
1) Intentional whole body love. Okay, so maybe you’re skeptical because it sounds a little too much like Eastern Spiritualism, or something. That’s okay. You can be skeptical. But, for me, intentional whole body love is the practice of listening to and loving my body. 

This practice can include a spa day, a hot bath, a massage, yoga, etc., but it requires the intentional commitment to paying attention to your body’s needs. 

This act of paying attention and validating my body allows me to name and notice pain and grief that I keep within my body. And, when I am able to notice, name and release this pain, I am working from a place of inner centeredness and strength and healing rather than a place which resists persistent pain.



2) Music. As an avid music lover, I found myself listening to these instrumental songs this week on my Pandora.

Music often allows me intentionally and introspectively reflect on life and various events in new ways. These songs in particular stirred me and felt especially poignant this past week as I noticed their melodic tune, rhythm and key.
3) Truth. This practice notices and names the characteristics of God. The practice of naming the good traits of our good God is fortifying and restorative. And, it allows me to refocus on the well of life without sinking into despair. When, I mourn, I realize that I am more keen to notice God’s characteristics as they relate to loneliness and abandonment. So, I name and notice God’s constant presence; God’s steadiness, God’s faithfulness and God’s promise of abundant life.
4) Lament. For me, lamenting is the practice of intentionally naming and noticing and validating how I am feeling. Similar to the practice of whole body love, this practice requires committing to a feeling and holding it for 60-90 seconds. After I hold the feeling, I practice deep breathing and I pray with that feeling. For example, this past week included something like this.
Shock. I feel shock in my hands and shoulders and in my throat. Okay, yes to shock. Yes, to recognizing that shock has made me feel helpless and scared. Yes, to recognizing that shock has made me freeze. Yes, to shock. God – You are a Good God and You can hold my shock. Hear me with this shock…. hold me with this shock…


            
What practices sustain you while you are grieving? What practices have you learned to cultivate when you mourn?

As always,
Shalom

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