In my practice, a feature of what my clients expect is that they will be heard. From the 94 year old who is lonely, to the person who has lost her identity after retiring from a high-level position with a company where she had worked for 35 years, or the middle age woman pulled away from her business to care for her aging parents…they know that I understand how their emotions and stress contribute to the state of their health.
I wrote Please Dance at My Funeral: A Celebration of Life due to the experiences and conversations I had with my parents before they died, and with hundreds who have wanted to share their personal stories about the passing of a loved one, or the expression of their own wishes. So many people have told me how ill prepared they were for the experience, and how very little communication had taken place. They were so busy looking for the latest magic pill, or so busy maintaining an optimism that their loved one would survive, that they denied themselves the honest communicating about the reality at hand.
Grief comes to us at different times in our lives. It isn’t just about death, but it is about loss. The loss of our ability to do things we once enjoyed, the loss of good health or the loss of employment. We know that when we stifle the expression of our emotions they can manifest in a physical symptom. Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert was a significant publication to the medical world about how our emotions play such a real and significant role in our health. Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Debbie Shapiro is an excellent resource to consider what symptoms your body is utilizing in attempt to get your attention. For example, how many of you know someone who is chronically bothered by their sinuses? Debbie writes that “sinusitis can be an expression of being irritated or inflamed by something or someone, … of being emotionally or creatively stuck, blocked or limited. Sinusitis is also connected to repressed grief and unshed tears.” Dr. John Upledger’s most recent publication, Cell Talk: Transmitting Mind Into DNA goes even further in discussing the body’s functions and consciousness.
Often our lives are so very busy that we seldom stop to process how we feel, or to “re-wind” to remember what stress or encounter upset us. But the body knows, and has already fired up the adrenals to accommodate the body’s need to compensate for the stress. A chain of events then take place that further impacts the body…like falling dominos that can contribute over time to inflammatory diseases or heart ailments.
A recent diagnosis that sets a limit to our activities, or perhaps to our remaining days of living, can result in anger, grief, sadness, remorse, or disbelief. To have the blessing of a family member, a friend, or a support group with whom you can openly express your emotions allows you to better process this new reality, and can help you open to being genuinely comforted by their ability to truly listen.
The same is true for caregivers. How often is it considered that the well spouse is supposed to stifle emotions to sustain the strength needed for the ill or dying spouse, to only find themselves with an illness or a diagnosis 18-24 months later? It’s detrimental to our health to find a supportive person or group with whom to share our feelings rather than keep them locked up inside.
Our bodies are beautiful, yet complicated works of technology, and no two are alike. No two people have the same immunity, the same means of response, the same triggers for emotion or for illness. But we all have two ears. We all have the ability to care and listen to another who needs to be heard. And we all have the right and the need to express ourselves honestly and freely, and to do so is most definitely a means to sustain our health and wellness.
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