How do our body and mind support the grieving process
The stage of negotiation
Each time we experience a significant emotional loss our soul craves for grieving. It sends signals to our brain and to our body and asks for permission to start the grieving process. If we’re very logical people most likely we will decline the request. Even if grief is the solution, it’s painful, uncomfortable, time-consuming, not supported by the society and often a life-changing experience. Instead, we put our unresolved emotional loss in our bag and try to carry on with our life. However, our body received the signal too along with the disapproval of the mind. This creates an immense tension that will cause physical illness and mental problems in the long run.
The less logical thinker we’re and the freer spirit we’ve, the bigger the chance is that we will start and fully complete the grieving process. In this case there’s more collaboration between our body and mind. Both have the same goal, namely, to serve the soul. Here the hindrance might be that our body is already struggling with health problems and we can’t endure the physical challenges that comes with grieving. For our own safety the process won’t take off at all or it will be postponed to a later time when the medical conditions are more favorable. As we can see, there’re serious communication and harmonization between soul, body and mind before the grieving process starts. At the pre-grieving stage the most optimal state is when the mind is less controlling and the body is prepared.
When the grieving process kicks off
The minute the grieving process starts the body takes over the main role. The influence of the brain drastically decreases. Our ability to think, to concentrate is limited. Our desire for isolation increases. It’s a scary experience even for the less rational people. Still, this is necessary, it protects the grieving process from sabotage. It holds back our mind and closes out any outsiders who don’t understand what we are going through, can’t empathize with us or are simple not familiar with grief. At this vulnerable state any inappropriate advice, even a well-intended one can divert us from the healing path. Our intuition should be the main source of guidance.
On the other side, our body gets activated, which causes weird sensations and symptoms. This might frighten us. Unless we’re very conscious and aware of what’s happening deep inside of us, our first reaction to it might be that something is wrong with our body, we must be sick. A medical examination can rule out any underlying physical condition and calm the mind down. What we experience however are only symptoms that are temporary and they will disappear once the work has been done.
As all the emotions related to the loss start surfacing, they travel through our body in the form of energy. Not only they are present but also they need to be transformed. Detachment and neutralization that are happening in the background. At this stage of the grieving process our body is under enormous strain. We can hardly put the emotions into words, that come up but certainly feel every cell of our body. During this time the brain remains underactivated. The body symptoms may include but they aren’t limited to:
- insomnia although we feel exhausted
- increased body temperature without any underlying infection
- tension in the head
- muscle and joint pain with burning sensation
- loss of appetite
- digestion problem
- chest pain
- heart race
It might take weeks, months but these body symptoms first lessen then disappear over time. Also, we can experience that some of our health issues (physical, mental) that had existed for a longer time, will have been resolved by the end of the grieving process.
The brain, that essentially played a passive role until now, is crawling out from the fog. It needs to take care of the body that has been depleted by now. Our rational thinking can help us to maintain a healthy diet, to get enough sleep and exercise, to stay away from any substance abuse (drug, alcohol, over-the-counter medicine etc.) or from any self-destructing behaviour. Self-care is always important, but this time it’s crucial.
After a very intense phase, the grieving process enters a physically less exhausting stage. The body starts recovering, although we can experience relapse at any point as grief isn’t linear, it’s more cyclical. However, it won’t be as severe as it was at the very beginning of the process. Now we feel our emotions, we can name them and even talk about them. After a period of isolation, we start socializing again. The recovery speeds up.
How long does the grieving process last?
It’s hard to predict how long the grieving process lasts, it’s quite individual. What certain is that we need to practice self-discipline, self-respect and self-trust for a longer time. Our body, mind and soul are asked to be in alignment with each other. Like the musicians in the orchestra who know exactly when it’s the time to join to the symphony or to withdraw from it with a certain instrument.
It depends on many factors how good we’re at that. For many of us however, going through the grieving process is one of our greatest battles in life. Not necessarily due to the loss that waits to be processed, mostly because we’re students here who learn how to master the art of self-love. Mainly that gives the time frame of our own grieving.