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  • Mary Carolla

When You Are Grieving

Recently, a friend shared some thoughts about gratitude and grief that gave me something to think about: Gratitude and grief can and do exist side by side. The two feelings do not cancel each other out. My last post was about gratitude and how it may affect your health. I do think it is important to acknowledge that for which we are grateful. Just as important is to acknowledge that which we have lost.

The last two years have been a hard road, and many of us are grieving something: Loss of a loved one, loss of a way of life, lost opportunities, a change in health status, or something else. Grief and bereavement can be stressful on the body and the mind. We must seek to take care of ourselves as we process these feelings. A mental health therapist or counselor is a great place to start. If you need help finding the right therapist, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has some helpful suggestions to get you on the right path.

Self care is always important, but it can be especially important during times of bereavement. Massage can help you cope during those times. The many general benefits of massage can be especially welcome during a time of grief. Massage can bring relief to muscles that are tense from the stress of grief. It can also promote restful sleep, especially helpful if you’ve been having sleepless nights. A massage can give some time and space away from the situation, offering the mind at least a small break. It can also be an opportunity to feel connected if you’ve been feeling isolated.

Just that shift from stress response to relaxation response that comes with massage can help a person cope during a period of grief. Researchers are starting to look at massage as a part of healing after loss. A study of eighteen people, ages 34-78, who had lost a relative to cancer participated in a study. They received massage therapy for eight weeks. Every participant reported that massage helped them find balance and adapt to life following their loss.

It is important to seek out a qualified grief counselor or mental health therapist if you need help working with grief. As a massage therapist, it is outside my scope of expertise to provide counseling, but I can provide attentive touch, a mindful presence, and unconditional acceptance. If you are grieving, please know I am here for you, ready to help.

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