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Healing Grief Through Movement

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

Have you heard the news? - a text on my phone in the middle of my work day that demanded my full attention. A second text revealed the name of a close friend of mine and an invitation to hear the news by text or to have a conversation by phone. My heart started pounding and the rhythm of my breath changed as I found myself in reaction before I even knew what was going to be said. I didn’t want a moment to pause, I wanted the news immediately and chose the second option. Two minutes later I was on the phone having a conversation with my ex-partner learning that my friend had passed away 4 days prior.

As anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a friend will know, it is the shock that is hard to deal with, the disbelief that someone so young could have disappeared from this plane of life so quickly and so unexpectedly. My love for my friend rose up in my heart along with a big sob of grief as I caught up with the reality of what I was being told. I asked my boss for some breathing space and went for a walk.

Movement is fantastic at a time like this. Whatever one is carrying emotionally we can rely on the physicality of the body to keep us present and connected to reality. Carrying my heart like a baby I put one foot in front of the other and walked gently and purposefully for around an hour, observing and processing my feelings. I could feel the grief that was sitting on my chest like a big alien. The heaviness was pulpable and I just observed it and felt it and walked.

Over the next couple of days I could feel that I was feeling pulled to change my usual movements. There was a temptation to drop my usual poise and slump with the grief. There was a temptation to eat foods that would comfort me and dull me instead of my usual loving and supporting diet. There was the temptation to speak in a way that was full of resentment or frustration due to the fact that I would never see my friend again. All of this I clocked and noticed.

I remembered the death of my Dad, 19 years ago. At the time I allowed myself to sink into an abyss of heaviness and misery. Absent of the knowing of any other way I chose to indulge in the grief, it felt like I was under water for 3 years before I finally bobbed up and felt ‘normal’ again. I also remembered the death of two other friends of mine and how I had buried my feelings, brushed it all off and carried on as normal with a stone for a heart.

This time I didn’t want to choose either of these options. I wanted to remain open to the feelings I was experiencing without indulging. So I allowed myself to feel the fragility and chose to move in a way that honoured this fragility. Instead of choosing comfort food I chose to continue to honour my body with the foods that it naturally loves and thrives on. Instead of succumbing to speaking with resentment I chose to speak in a way that was loving and respectful to myself and others. And most importantly I chose to move in a way that was healing for my body.

The quality of my movements were gentle and felt like silk. I walked, showered, worked, cooked, washed the dishes, spoke with my partner and prepared for bed in this gentle and silky energy, never leaving my own side for a moment. And as I stayed present with my gentle movements I felt like I was being bathed and enveloped in love. The love magnified as I moved and my body just lapped it up. I could feel the heavy lump of grief sitting on my chest and how it was very clearly not a part of the rest of me. As I committed to moving with gentleness and receiving the love this heaviness started to shift, became lighter, and within two days it disappeared. I could feel that the grief was no longer in my body, and by the third day I felt emotionally stable once again. I had experienced first-hand the healing power of movement.

Of course I miss my friend - but having cleared the grief from my body I am able to love more fully and feel joy in the memories of her. I know that her essence lives on and we are still connected within the holding energy of this gigantic universe.

And the conclusion here is that we always have a choice, a choice of how we move and breathe our way through this life. We can choose to move in the misery, or we can choose to move in love, a very real tangible sense of love that can move and magnify throughout our body through choosing a gentle quality within our movements – and this movement is healing.

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