He sits heavy on my chest.
Pinning me down;
Stuck in place;
Unable to get up;
Unable to move forwards;
Unable to shake him off;
Unable to breathe.
Longing for what was;
Longing for what would no longer be;
Longing for the me I knew;
Longing for the certainty.
Wanting to scream,
A lump in my throat,
Blocks the release.
The weight unbearable,
Darkness envelops me,
Still... I breathe
He is gone.
Have you buried your grief, only to find that the ghost of grief still haunts you? During a Joe Dispenza guided meditation session, grief emerged as that "emotion that I (needed) to release." His meditations utilize the principles of brain neuroplasticity. The goal is to rewire the brain from an old, stuck, dysfunctional emotional pattern to a new pattern. It was the thought of grief, which ignited the trigger and the feeling of heaviness on my chest.
Outwardly, I display a very neutral emotional disposition. According to many, including Dr. Gabor Maté, as outlined in his book, When the Body Says No, repressed emotions correlate with disease. When I read this book several years ago, I thought, "I am in trouble." The saying, "better out than in" apparently applies to our emotional well-being, not just digestive health.
Getting To Know Your Emotional Self
"Emotional intelligence" and "emotional agility", are phrases I have heard Brené Brown use. As part of my emotional development, I wrote out all the emotions that I could think of under the titles of Happy, Sad, and Angry. These are the three emotions that everyone knows well. Under Angry, some of what I listed included, frustrated, overwhelmed, tired, and ungrounded; Under Sad, there was shame, guilt, vulnerable, lonely, unwanted, and disconnected to name a few; then under Happy, I some of what I had listed were alive, electric, loved, wholehearted, and focused. In total, I had 59 emotions listed. I just added grief to my sad list, to make it 60 emotions.
Grief in Chinese Medicine, in held in the lungs. This is where the heaviness in the chest, suffocating, and unable to breath images come from. Unreleased grief can keep us stuck, unable to move forwards with living life fully. Why is there a tendency to suppress grief? Does it come out of the need to keep up the outward appearance of strength? Do we have to "hold it together" for the sake of someone else? There is the mistaken cultural and societal association of emotional expression with vulnerability and weakness. Then there is the whole concept of "Toxic Positivity", that Dr. Susan David discusses with Brené Brown, on one of the Dare to Lead (March 1 and 8th, 2021) podcasts.
Stages of Grief
The psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, outlined five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The denial and anger parts are where I am fighting with everything I have, to get grief off my chest. Grief was torturing me, by reminding me of all the things I felt I had lost. Including, more recently, the loss of my identity as a physiotherapist. Part of the denial and bargaining are the longing for what was, to be what is. The acceptance comes in the form of surrender. Surrender has not been doing nothing. Surrender has involved processing and integrating my feelings of loss and feelings of uncertainty about the unknown path that lies ahead. Without the integration process, we are just burying our emotions, leaving the emotional ghosts haunting us.
I am no longer the person I once was, but I am still the Soul I always have been.
In the surrender, I envisioned how I would pass out from the lack of oxygen. Having passed out once before, I know the feeling of the gradual loss of vision and the feeling of darkness creeping in. At first, I hung on, but eventually my body went limp.
I still breath. I am still alive. Grief leaves once I surrender; once I stop the fight; once I am still.
Still enough to feel the emotion. After I feel the emotion, then I figure out where I feel it in my body. After I know where it is in my body, then I can look at the where and when I am (in the past). This helps me understand from my adult perspective, what and why my younger self was feeling, and what she needed to help her deal with that emotion.
If you don't have that person in your life who you can speak opening about what you are feeling without feeling judged, then I would recommend working with a counsellor. Remember, "Better out than in."