pain[ payn ]
unpleasant physical sensation (from bing dictionary)
Dr. Alan Wolfelt says that “doing well with your grief means becoming well acquainted with your pain”. He also says you have to “feel it to heal it”. Corny, I know, but important. Rumi is saying the same thing here. It’s hard to feel the feelings when they are inherently painful.
Grief is painful – physically, emotionally and spiritually. The intense emotionality that accompanies grief can cause physical pain. One client, whose adult son died tragically, describes what can only be stated as agony. Her crying is so intense, so primal, so gut-wrenching, that she is in physical pain and so she tries to avoid that level of grief. She admits to trying to keep so busy to avoid those feelings, but then notices that her grief “erupts out of nowhere when it isn’t convenient”.
As a medical professional, she does not wish to cry all day at work. One practice that has helped her and others is to set aside a time and space to allow for the expression of grief every evening. She has carved out a place in her home (one woman once used her walk in closet) to go to be alone and uninterupted. I’ve suggested she write in her journal, look at photos, listen to music, anything that will elicit some form of emotional response. At first it feels forced and unnatural, but after a few nights, it becomes automatic. My client who used her walk-in closet would start to cry as soon as she put her hand on the doorknob of the closet. This way, during the day when the emotionality starts to build, you can remind yourself that you will have that time later and that right now you will attend to your responsibilities. (My closet client was a vice-president of a major company.)
Translation: The key here is the regular practice of releasing the emotionality — not avoiding it. Feeling the feelings. Allowing the pain. Leaning into it instead of avoiding it.
I’d like to hear how those of you who work have made it through your days. What practices have you adopted that you’ve found helpful? Are there any that others have suggested that have not worked?
Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC