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Getting through Grief
a blog by Beth and Tami of Pulling Down the Moon
For those of you who don’t know my “back-story,” it took me seven years and an awful lot of pregnancies – two miscarriages, a full-term stillbirth, and two healthy pregnancies – to achieve my two fabulous little boys. During those seven years of my life I lived with a lot of grief. My first miscarriage was a shock. I had just jumped on the path of yoga and was certain that I had found the magic fertility bullet. So, when the pregnancy ended early, it was definitely not part of the plan. But my new love of yoga and the hustle and bustle of “trying again” helped me heal pretty quickly from that first loss. After another year and a half I conceived again, but sadly after a wonderful pregnancy my little girl, Georgia, died just before her due date.
After that, I didn’t know what to do. Getting back into the “trying to conceive” mindset was awful. I clung to my yoga practice for sanity, but off the mat my life was plagued with a sense of emptiness. Even more devastating, I felt a desperate need to hold on to Georgia. Trying for another child seemed so disloyal – like I was abandoning her. I can remember looking at the tiny can of ashes that came back from the funeral home and thinking that the poetic thing to do would be to scatter her over Lake Michigan. But I couldn’t let go. My mother-in-law even gave me a lovely jar to put her ashes in, but in the end even that didn’t feel close enough. In the end she landed in my husband’s sock drawer. Don’t laugh. It was safe and snuggly in there – and we saw her every day.
It was clear that grief had a complete hold on me. Everything around me was like a string that pulled me back to this sense of emptiness. I knew that time would help me heal, but in the interim I needed to move forward and have another child. I needed to somehow cut the strings of grief.
The real breakthrough came when one of my friends gave me a gift certificate for a session of Reiki. I’d never experienced energy healing before and frankly it sounded a bit woo-woo. I arrived at the appointment expecting something like a massage but, instead of manipulation, the practitioner used light touch on different points of my body. Within minutes I was in the deepest state of relaxation I’d ever experienced.
After the session, the practitioner explained that Rei is the Japanese word for “Universal” (the Energy that is available for everyone) and Ki (chi in Chinese) is the Japanese word for “energy.” A Reiki practitioner has been attuned to this life energy and can help direct its flow in others. My practitioner described how painful emotions and life experiences can remain in our body and act as a drain on our vitality. In my case, I wanted Georgia to live so badly that I was keeping her alive the only way I knew how – through pain and grief.
As “out there” as all this sounds, at the time I had an intuition that the practitioner was absolutely, completely right.
I created an in intention right then and there that I would allow Georgia to stay with me, but not through grief and suffering. Reiki became a weekly event in my life and as my comfort with treatment increased, my sessions deepened. Often visions, colors and insights would arise during a session. At other times I would feel rushes of energy and changes in body temperature that signaled a release or rebalance of energy. I could feel myself filling up with life again.
During this period of Reiki treatment I started to feel my connection to Georgia changing. In my outside world I began to create again, and each creation felt like a gift from her. During this time, Tami and I started Pulling Down the Moon and shortly after I became pregnant with my son Jackson. As I held Jackson there was no guilt or abandonment. I had learned to let Georgia be what she was, and still is, a precious spirit that has brought many gifts into the world.
I don’t really know what brought this into my mind today. I think perhaps it’s because I currently have several students who are struggling with similar grief and loss. Grief was a major transforming force for good in my life and the way I learned a few simple things:
1. We think we need to work our grief out alone, that there’s nothing anyone else can do to help – but that wasn’t my experience at all. In fact, I found that healing touch allowed me to heal much quicker and more completely that I could have on my own.
2. The ties of grief that keep our loved ones “alive” for us are no stronger that the ties of joy and remembrance that can replace them.
3. Ancient traditions of ritual and healing exist because they help us heal and transform. If you’re struggling with grief, explore some of these traditions – get an astrology reading, a sage ceremony, go to a gong bath. These rituals create turning points that are designed to empower us to let go of grief – and move on to honor the dead by being alive again.
Be present, be positive . . . and don’t be afraid to let your losses transform you.
P.S. And, in case you’re wondering, Georgia is still in the sock drawer, almost within arm reach. I wouldn’t have it any other way.