Embodied grief means the grief has been contained or become tangible. I have known for a long time that emotions can be held within the body. I have also known that is can be very detrimental to one’s health. Here’s the rub. I am one of those people who likes to control when and how I express my emotions. Apparently, grief doesn’t like to work that way.
The other day, I was so consumed by a headache. One of the worst I have had in years. I was so miserable I left work early. This never happens. As I was driving home, it felt like there was a vice grip on my head. I couldn’t get home fast enough. I just wanted to lay down. It occurred to me as I was driving that maybe a trip to the chiropractor would be helpful. I was too miserable to even call, and pledged to myself that I would in the morning. I proceeded to plant myself on the couch for the rest of the day. While it did provide more relief than ibuprofen, it was still minimal.
Morning arrived and for a brief moment I thought I was fine. I hesitated, but I did call for a chiropractic appointment. The appointment began with a short message. As soon as she touched my shoulders, I realized how locked up my muscles were. She commented that I was a mess. Each touch hurt, but I knew she needed to loosen up my neck and shoulders. Then something unexpected happened. She hit a spot on my shoulder and I felt something release. She even said, “There it goes.” In an instant I was a washed in grief, saw the face of my beloved niece and in tears. Overwhelmed by this realization, I promised God to let myself grieve, however I didn’t want to scare the massage therapist. So, I asked God to help me pull it together for just a little bit longer :0)
I had embodied grief. I had used my busy schedule as a defense against letting myself feel the sadness building inside. I know emotions affect my health. I know the value of letting myself feel, and yet there I was crying in the chiropractor’s office. Grief doesn’t obey the right time and place. It just is and I need to let myself feel it when it arrives. It is easy to think our emotional health is separate from our physical health, but God has intricately designed us. He went to great detail in having our bodies systems talk to each other, and He instructs us to find our rest and relief in Him.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:5-8 NIV).
Sometimes grief clouds our journey and makes it difficult to see what is ahead of us. God reminds us that together, with Him, we can find rest for our souls. He is our rock and our refuge. He will provide comfort. I just needed to invite Him back into the process so that my grief can be expressed and not embodied.
What has God taught you through grief? Do you embody grief? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.