Grief Release 5/30/17
“Dad was finally agreeing to something that maybe I should’ve offered myself, but we know how those things go, too close for effective measure. So, after hearing about the discomfort and distention in my Papa’s belly (around his heart and stomach), our friend offered him a Thai massage session to which Papa agreed on.
We huddled into the spacious yurt and allowed the room to be set; my brothers and I sat on the couch, one of their partners sitting with us, and we observed the beginning of any regular body work session. Warming up, getting comfortable, and gentle movements.
Only Papa is a bit different. Ever since I was a young kid, I would watch him on the chiropractor’s table getting an adjustment and moving his body in a way that seemed like he was having a sort of epileptic experience, convulsing with his arms outstretched at his sides, palms up, eyes rolling back, and breathing intensely the whole time while letting out deep outbursts of sonic release. After many years of now witnessing people discharging emotional turbulence and stored traumas of the bodies, I know that he has learned a skill that is nearly unteachable. He refers to it as somatic breath work, a practice he learned when I was just a baby. His body undulates like water and he breathes through it in a trance-like state with nothing stimulating the process besides his own volition and attitude.
As our friend starts to work on him, within minutes, Papa moves into this state of deep exchange of breath and movement. He then, out of nowhere, rises up off the floor and breaks out into the most deep and guttural cry that I have ever heard from my own father since I have been able to remember. I had been in a relaxed state prior on the couch, but upon witnessing this break through, I calmly dipped down to the floor to level with him and started to focus more intensely on relaxation. I called upon my plant teachers and my nervous system lets me know when they come, of which all did.
Some of my family members were concerned in these intense minutes of vulnerability. I mean, how often do we see each other in such a delicate place and feel safe in doing so, from either vantage? It seems very rare to me. Yet, working with ceremony and the daily checking in of myself and others through community, it is of no shock to witness a very necessary human experience, one that most of us have learned to stifle to our very detriment.
If grief has a way in, then it definitely needs a way out. We are capable of carrying and holding onto things for such a long time that we forget why the music of our lives has been so harsh and strangely out of tune. It takes a safe space and deep trust to know that we can even express what needs to be expressed, for fear of judgement and being fully seen can totally block such a catharsis to unfold naturally, as it should.
My family member returns back to the room after a few minutes outside to calm himself down. I explained to him quietly but directly that if he wants to help my father, he must only empty himself and pray. I look beyond him and my family has begun instinctively chanting mantra in an effort to assist.
As we all formed a semi circle concave to my father, our hands guided by the Thai massage practitioner started to gravitate towards my papas hands and legs and I landed my gentle hand on his chest. I began to pray in Spanish, quickly rolling into a spontaneous feeling based thought-less connection to All That Is. I am working with tobacco at this point, blowing it on myself and my fathers hands and heart and head, cleaning him up. I then come back to his heart, and I recognize how close it is, and so I connect to my own space and feel him. The grief is heavy and I erupt in tears, I flow like a river, I cannot stop myself for that would be the failure of the entire session! I cry so hard with him and many of us start to at this point, purging the tension through our eyes, grieving for life herself and the hardships that come of Samsaric dancing. The intensity rises between us all,; the drumming up of an inevitable breakthrough on the horizon.
After a minute of intense crying it starts to slow down and I open my eyes and lift my head off the floor to see my father smiling through tear soaked cheeks, bringing me to recognize the clearing of his chest, the blockage unblocked. We all come up to him on as he is on the floor, one by one, and kiss him and tell him our love. We rise up from the grounding ground and hug each other proper, just like anyone would after a vulnerable release.”
– Listen to grief and praise talk by Martin Prechtel
– We are not usually accustomed to one releasing emotions… How do you react to this experience when it happens around you? How can it get better?
– Do you have a regular way of safely releasing what has been accrued?