Grief In The Body: Taking Up Space (photos)

Grief can overwhelm us with a tsunami of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that leave us physically exhausted, feeling comatose or dead, and moving through life in a body that feels, moves, and even breathes differently than before they died.

Often we push our grief down, make it small, hidden, or act like it doesn’t exist because we sense it is unwelcome in our familial or social circles or feel an unspoken pressure to “keep it together.”

What would it feel like to you in your body to be supported in your grief, to be entitled to your feelings, to be seen and heard?

What would this look like for you in your body?

One way to practice taking up space in our grief is to practice taking up space with our bodies.

You might start in a small, curled-up position and slowly move to sitting up or standing tall. Perhaps you find somewhere between small and large, hidden and seen, closed and open that feels supportive and good to you in your body today. Don’t worry about what it looks like, tune into what it feels like.

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This practice of meeting our bodies where they are in grief and beginning from there is one beautiful way to recruit our innate, inner healing resources.

More yoga videos and practices at TheGriefPractice.com or get the book here.

Photos: Stacey Winters

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28 One-Liners On Grief

For almost a year now I’ve been quietly posting almost daily under my project name of The Grief Practice over on Instagram. I alternate posting words with photos, and tonight I wrapped up many of them into this little list. Because I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s nice to have all the words in one place.

Often I expand on the concept in the body of the post, but I’ve kept this list sweet and short.

  1. Don’t toss your broken pieces aside. You’ll need them to complete the puzzle of your heart.
  2. Sometimes we don’t every say Goodbye to them, to us, to who we used to be.
    We just say hello to each new breath, each new moment, each new day.
  3. We are not give what we can handle.
    We handle what we are given.
  4. You’ll get there faster by going slower.
  5. You don’t need to know it or name it to heal it.
  6. Let Grief speak. Just like Love it has something to say.
  7. We don’t work against sadness.
    We work with sadness.
  8. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with your grief. You are having a tremendous human experience.
  9. When we can’t look forward, we can look up.
  10. Healing is not linear or logical.
  11. The only grief anyone can be an expert on is their own.
  12. Honor the collapse.
  13. Follow your grief’s lead. It knows the way back home.
  14. Grief is not contagious.
  15. The way through is in.
  16. Grief expands before it shrinks.
  17. The old rules don’t apply now.
  18. We can’t talk ourselves out of how we feel.
  19. The body processes slower than the mind.
  20. Grief isn’t just about grief.
  21. Exile nothing.
  22. The darkness teaches us many things, one of which is to celebrate the light.
    The other is how to see in the dark.
  23. Before we can move on, we have to move in.
  24. Too much Shhh. Not enough Sacred.
  25. Our bodies are the first home for our grief, starting with the feeling of our hearts breaking.
  26. Our stories of how things ended are also stories of how we begin.
  27. Sometimes our outer facade can’t keep up with our inner pain.
  28. Happy endings are for fairy tales.
    Real life is about Courageous beginnings.

The Face of Grief

Grief walked by me today. It was wearing all white, each pair of eyes holding pain the way only humans can.

The fifty or so humans walking by me wore white shirts that held a picture and a name. Everyone looked up as they passed. At their number, at their unity, at the name they wore on their shirts, the same name they wore on their hearts.

Even the people who didn’t look at them saw them, and I remembered what I too often forget.

That if enough of us walk together the world will look up from what it’s doing and see our raw humanity, how we fall to pieces when we lose, and how it’s possible to lift the body of grief if others help us.

And it’s not to make people who haven’t lost feel bad; it’s to make people who have lost feel free. Free to declare their love in this public and sobering way. Free to speak their pain the way we speak our joy.

Visually, audibly, artistically, humanly.

And I wonder if we can carry our grief together. You and me and all of us who have lost a parent or a partner or a child or a friend. I wonder if we can walk together for the world to see and collectively step up to the platform of life and give grief a voice and a face and a name.

Can we show the world such an authentic and beautiful demonstration of humanity that even the people who don’t look up will see us, will hear us and know that when loss lands at their doorstep, we who have lost will be here to catch them in our widespread arms and hearts.

For a little over a year I’ve been co-creating such a platform for grief. It’s called The Grief Practice: An Anthology of Loss. It’s a project that invites grief to speak its heart, show its scars and beauty marks and rest in community.

I invite you to stand up with me and give grief a voice. If you are interested in sharing your story the details are at TheGriefPractice.com.

Let’s carry our grief together.