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The Physical Effects of Grief

We know that our emotions have an effect upon us, now acupuncture gives these different emotions specific regions that they will physically targeted. With this knowledge in hand it makes it obvious why certain symptoms occur. Without this information you may be mistaken for thinking that you are just getting a cold a headache or an upset stomach. This doesn’t necessarily mean that because you get a cold that you have some deep-seated emotional issue going on, health is more complex than that, but how we feel and what is going on in our emotional life can be a real contributing factor.
It wasn’t long ago that mind body-medicine was ridiculed. Now it continues to get more and more mainstream traction as we universally acknowledge that stress and its effects are more than purely psychological.
So lets assign a specific emotion to a specific region of the body and unfold grief.
Often people who have been or are going through grief will end up with a cold or flu or some sort of bronchial incident and not realize that the emotional experience and the symptoms are linked. It’s so common you can almost predict that someone who is deeply grieving will almost certainly experience some sort of lung related symptoms; add a little cold weather to the equation and it’s nearly guaranteed.
The reason for this is that grief’s primary effect is on the lungs. Of course if you have a tendency towards another area of specific weakness that this area will often come under attack as stress hunts out the site of least resistance; but generally through thousands of years of observation it has been noticed that grief will in particular effect the lungs. It need not be the “end of the world flu”, for you, it may be as subtle as a sensation of heaviness to the chest or a feeling that you just don’t have enough energy in your lungs, breathing may be mildly labored or you may just feel an overall sense of fatigue.
For me when I experienced grief with my father’s passing I suddenly had this strange need to catch my breath after a few sentences. While it was subtle it was something that I would never normally experience.
So what are some things that can help the natural process of grieving?
Thing 1. Sometimes there’s little that can or need be done other than a loving shoulder to cry on. Sometimes there isn’t a solution. Sometimes the only thing that can heal is time itself. Some scars are engraved within us for life, shaping who it is that we are.
Thing 2. Be aware that grief is occurring and that it is having a physical effect. In this case awareness is king.
Thing 3. Find people that you can talk to, people that understand what it is you are going through, people that can facilitate you through this difficult experience, people that can help unfold the experience that wants to happen, acknowledging that in many ways this may be a changing point in your life. This may require a professional who knows how to hold, support and unfold you and your experience.
Thing 4. Acupuncture. For me in the early stages of grief acupuncture was truly outstanding. It had a way of opening the lungs and dealing with the depths of emotion calming the nervous system. Dream like visions occurred during my treatments that brought peace and healing.
Thing 5. Herbs are a great option to support the physical and emotional effects of grief, I have an affinity for astragalus and its anti cold and flu like qualities, but herbs need to be specific to you and your unique circumstances. There isn’t a ‘one fit for all’.
Thing 6. Exercise. Because it opens the lung, moves the circulation and creates free flow through the body, and when you flow freely you feel good and connect to everything feeling less alone.
Healing is always happening. Cut yourself and your body goes automatically to work. Your body and your life is always trying to move back to balance. This is good to know when what you are feeling may seem so random and chaotic.
While I felt that I should get up and get back to life my symptoms guided me to slow down reminding me that this was not a time to push but rather a time to follow, to notice and to change.
And just when I thought I might be able to miss the signals and get back on with my life I was struck with confirmation in the symbols of a dream.
In the dream the “dreamtime serpent” takes me deep into the underworld. As I awaken I suddenly know that I’m not yet fully of this world, that I need a little time to walk, to remember and to watch the sun rise and set. To acknowledge that the world that I once knew is gone, that something has changed, that something new has been born. That birth and death remain the natural cycles of life. That each day brings with it a little birth and a little death, that death brings with it an awakening to life.  
In a way I’m still not back, once you’ve been there you never fully return; we’re not meant to. While one foot remains in this world the other is found in the more meditative dream like states of the underworld, where new ideas and dreams are crafted ready to begin, to live. Faith is born and we are called to follow; follow our own unique nature, our own unique path, our own individual path of heart.
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