The body in grief

The body stores emotion, stores memory. In our muscles, tendons, and connective tissue are the experiences of our lives, whether we remember them or not. Trauma haunts us from our insides unless – until – we deal with it.

I have used my body as a means of expression through much of my life – dance, theater, Pilates, yoga. I have seen chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and body workers. I know the healing powers of massage, Reiki, cranial-sacral therapy, myofascial release and EFT.

Why – why? – was I so surprised when I began to dance (tentatively, gingerly) at the wedding last night and the molten lava of my grief spilled over? I had to choose between letting the volcano erupt and leaving the wedding (the eye makeup would never have recovered) or letting it spill gently over the side until it cooled enough for me to walk over it and back into the room.

The whole day I walked a tightrope of emotion and by mid-afternoon my body began to rebel. A glass of post-wedding champagne sent me spinning. I could feel myself hardening into a protective shell though I fought against it. Eventually I was able to let it go.

Two people asked me if Ada was my only child. I answered honestly. I wore my grief, hidden lightly by my shawl – not obvious but easily uncovered by the slightest tug at a fringed corner. I considered leaving early but thought I’ve come all this way, I’m not ready to give up. I was there because I love the bride and I didn’t want to disappear into the night. I resolved to open my heart and as a result I had difficult moments and lovely conversations. Staying open and being present, being honest while grieving feels risky, exhausting and at the same time, absolutely the only way for me to be.

The lesson? Dance. Grieve. Keep my heart open. Heal my body. Dance some more.

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0 Responses to The body in grief

  1. Jessica says:

    Alana you are one strong women! I know how hard it is to around big groups of people who don’t know your loss – I’m going to church right now which is just such a place. Tons of people who know me but have no idea of my second loss and have probably forgotten the first (a mere 7 months ago). I’m glad that you stayed and even though painful got to discuss Benjamin… I hope when I have a child and someone asks me if he/she is my only child that I will have the strength to answer like you. I can’t imagine answering any other way… HUGS TO YOU! <3

  2. Melissa says:

    I had a similar situation at a wedding about 6 weeks after Mikayla died. I wasn’t near as strong as you were. =) Well said about this physical aspect of grief though. I do often feel like I am walking that tightrope and at any minute it can all come washing over me. It’s at times like that where I try to hold in my grief and pretend that I’m feeling “normal” that it hits me the worst so I try hard to avoid those situations or at least avoid holding in my feelings when they do come.

  3. Dian Reid says:

    “Keep my heart open.” I got a warm flow of energy to my own heart as I read this line, Alana … so simple, and yet so complex, so real … such beauty and strength in your words, your heart, your soul.


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