Feminine Side of Grief Lesson Two Individual Track Learning Guide

Feminine Side of Grief Series

Individual Track Learning Guide

Lesson Two: Grief & the Body

Questions Worth Considering

4. “Studies of disenfranchised grief — and there are many of them — have found that when societies do not sanction grief, we internalize these standards and regard our own emotions and reactions as less legitimate. This lack of external and internal validation has also been found to negatively impact our psychosocial health and increase our risk for developing clinical depression.” – Guy Winch M.D.

5. “Your body is so very wise. It will try to slow you down and invite you to authentically mourn the losses that touch your life. The emotions of grief are often experienced as bodily-felt energies. We mourn life losses from the inside out. In our experience as a physician and grief counselor, it is only when we care for ourselves physically that we can integrate our losses emotionally and spiritually.” – Alan Wolfelt Ph.D.

6. “As care providers, in addition to inquiring about eating, sleeping, and exercising, we can go a little deeper because the body is holding the grief” – Soul & Science Lesson

7. “. . . noticing your breath and increasing your use of breathing practices can also help you to become more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings, giving you a sense of control and stability in an otherwise incredibly chaotic time of life. The more you notice how you feel, what your thought patterns are, how your body is affected by your responses to the world around you, your grief experience, your thoughts and feelings, the less out of control you can begin to feel.” - Karla Helbert, MS, LPC

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Best Practices – (Choose at Least One)

1. “It is not always easy to care for your physical being in a mourning-avoidant culture.  Without a doubt, physical self-care takes time, mindfulness, and discernment.” – Alan Wolfelt Ph.D.

Sit or lie down in a quiet spot and let yourself completely relax. Ask yourself: “Where in my body is my sadness located?” Scan your body to see where it aches or holds tension when you ask this question. Think of where you most often hurt when you are experiencing the pain of grief. Make a goal to treat this area of your body with awareness, tenderness, and care.

2. “It is important, as care providers, to be opening up to the language of the body.” – Soul & Science Lesson

This week, take special care to observe the body language of someone you love who is grieving. Try to acknowledge and accommodate for this physical manifestation of their suffering. Simply providing your awareness and care is a gift of healing.

3. “Grieving on its own makes us feel like we want to be slumped down, curled into a ball. It makes us want to protect our hearts. The chaotic yet static state sometimes even stops our breath entirely. If you are grieving, you may notice that your breathing is very shallow, or that you are holding your breath without even realizing it. You may suddenly find yourself gasping for a breath, as if you’ve been underwater, reaching for the surface. This is not abnormal in grieving. Grief affects every part of us, including our breathing. Here is your chance to learn to breathe through grief.” – Breathing Lessons for Coping with Grief

Help yourself or others experiencing grief carry out this breathing exercise found in the Good Therapy article “Breathing Lessons for Coping with Grief” by Karla Helbert, MS, LPC,

“This is an exercise in simply noticing your breath, helping you to become more aware and mindful of your own breath as it moves in and out of your body.

-To begin, sit in any comfortable position, on the floor or on a chair, with your spine long and straight but not stiff.

-Find a comfortable position for your hands, either folded gently in your lap or resting on your thighs or knees—palms up or down, whichever feels right to you.

-You may close your eyes if that feels comfortable. If not, find a spot on the floor a few feet in front of you and allow your gaze to soften. As you sit, begin to notice the temperature of the air on your skin, notice any sounds you may hear within or outside the room. Begin to notice your body’s weight as it is supported by the chair or the floor. Notice the feel of the floor or the chair under your sitting bones, under your legs. Notice the feel of the floor beneath your feet. Expand your awareness to noticing the sensations of your entire body without feeling the need to change anything, simply notice.

-Now, begin to notice and follow the movement of your breath as it moves in and out of your body, as you inhale and exhale. As you inhale, notice the temperature and the vibration of the air as it flows through your nasal passages, down your throat and trachea, on its way into your lungs. Notice the different sensations of your belly, your ribs, and your chest as they gently expand. As you exhale, notice the temperature of the air, the movement of the tiny hairs of your nose, the feeling of your lungs empty of air as it leaves your body. Simply notice these things and any other sensations that occur as you continue to breathe, easily and naturally, in and out.

-Simply notice your breath as it moves in and out of your body without the need to change anything at all. Just Breathe.”