Massage and Mourning: Power of Touch Helps to Relieve Mental, Physical Stress During the Grieving Process
John L. Pantera Aug 13, 2014
When a family member, friend or loved one passes away, varying degrees of emotional and physical pressure can weigh you down as you deal with grief and mourning for yourself and those around you. To help release some of the common pressure associated with mourning and lift any burden that you might be carrying around, it may be helpful to use massage as a healthy mental, physical and spiritual outlet during your grieving process.
“Massage therapy can provide relief from stress and physical tension,” explains Mary Soto, massage therapist at Elements Massage Park Ridge. “It can alleviate headaches and other areas of pain that come during the grieving process. Massage also can provide comfort and nurturing to one who is in mourning. It can allow someone to have some well-needed quiet time away from the situation. And, it can also help to relax and encourage rest or much needed sleep.”
Mourning Should be an Individual Process
The grieving process can include different stages for everyone that can happen at various times after you’ve lost a loved one. However, no two people will grieve in the same ways and along the same timeline. The process is individual and should be approached in a manner that you’re comfortable with and that meets your specific needs. As you face the emotional and physical challenges that are involved in the process, it’s important to remember to take one step at a time and to not keep feelings bottled up inside.
“Keeping your feelings inside isn’t usually good for the body, mind or spirit,” advises Soto. “There isn’t one right or wrong way to mourn, so everyone should be allowed to grieve on their own terms. As a therapist, I try to always respect and honor my clients’ grieving process. I try to be supportive, comforting and just be present for each person in that particular moment.”
Surrounding yourself with loving and compassionate friends or family members may be helpful for sharing your feelings when you’re ready to connect. Or, if you don’t prefer to express yourself by talking, then writing in a journal can sometimes be a powerful and freeing tool. Finding a quiet place where you can meditate, pray or be still also can help soothe the spirit, as well as seeking the calmness of nature to clear your mind and release your emotions may be helpful.
Power of Touch Can Help Heal Physical Conditions
In addition to the emotional fatigue and pain that is common for someone who is mourning, physical conditions such as headaches, body and joint aches, and insomnia also can be present during the grieving process. Releasing physical pain and tension with massage can not only help to make your body feel better, it also can be beneficial for improving your mental state. When your body isn’t in pain and you feel better physically, your mental outlook on life can in turn lead toward a more positive nature. Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand throughout your daily life, but it’s important to especially focus on both during the grieving process. The two can feed off of each other negatively if both aren’t addressed, or they both can work together to promote healing and rejuvenation. And, the power of massage can be a powerful tool for helping bring together a more harmonious state of mental and physical health.
Emotional Releases Can Lead to a Healing Heart
As you embark on the journey of healing a hurting heart, regular massage therapy sessions that focus on nurturing your mind, body and spirit can lead to powerful results. Soto recommends seeking a massage that combines a mix of relaxing Swedish strokes with some lighter level deep tissue work to not only soothe the mind and body, but to pull out any heavy energy that you may be carrying around and to put forth more peaceful and compassionate energy. As time progresses, it may be appropriate to add in some deeper work, stretching and mobilization techniques to open up blocked energy areas and alleviate more of the physical manifestations that may be present during your grieving process.
“My clients have appreciated the quiet moments and the nurturing that comes with the massage,” shares Soto. “There is often a sense of peacefulness and a feeling of being lighter as if a heavy burden was lifted in the moment.”
“Overall, I believe massage provides a wonderful way to receive comfort and nurturing in a quiet setting and in a non-judgmental way,” continues Soto. “If the client needs a moment to cry on the table, I will stop and offer my hand or simply step back until they are ready to receive again. With permission, I will often give my client a big, reassuring hug and offer my most sincere condolences and my most nurturing and comforting work to help them along in their process.”