Grief and the Body
Referencing and expounding on “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” by Scott Berinato.
Recently, the Harvard Business Review published an article about the Covid pandemic and the grief it elicits on a global scale, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief”. In it, Berinato interviewes David Kessler, coauthor of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s book On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss, and author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.
There is much of value in the interview, two excerpts of which I’d like to highlight here. Kessler states:
“We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling.”
Yes! Sit with your feelings. And what’s more, go deeper. As Kessler says, your body is producing the feeling. Often, the body also knows what it needs to help deal with it. Feeling the emotion is a great start, but there’s so much we can do to relieve the pressure of these emotions in our bodies. See the accompanying video for a few ideas.
One of the interview questions, which had a great answer but I want to focus on the question itself:
“When we’re feeling grief there’s that physical pain. And the racing mind. Are there techniques to deal with that to make it less intense?”
Kessler goes on to discuss how to help calm the mind and disrupt what for many of us can be a harmful cycle of anxiety and anticipatory fear. But there’s something there in the question. That physical pain. That is a great place to go. Our bodies are not dumping grounds, in spite of how we use them. If there is physical pain because of an emotion, certainly listen to the emotion but listen to the pain, as well. Often it is your body trying to process that feeling and it may need help from your mind. Again, there are techniques we can use to heed this call. The first step is to hear it and recognize it for what it is.