Grief takes up space within the body. Whether it’s the meme analogy that if you imagine your grief inside a jar (or box) and the grief, depicted by a small, black ball, at first seems large and then gets smaller. People think grief shrinks over time. Rather we grow around it.
If we look at our body through the koshas, the five layers of our self, which in eastern philosophy are said to contain our soul. These layers are physical, energy, mental, emotional, and bliss. You may think grief inhabits just your emotional body. After all, grief is an emotion, and a strong one at that. When we talk about the traditional five stages of grief, feelings and emotions come to the fore as we go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. With the exception of denial and bargaining, which live to some extent in the mind (mental body), those five stages reside completely in the emotional body.
However, our grief doesn’t fully live there. There was hints of it before. The five stages of grief contain some aspect of mental work as we try to deny the reality of loss, and then try to bargain to make it better. Grief sits in the physical body. “Broken heart syndrome” is very real, with those, especially caretakers, of someone who had passed away often experiencing significant physical health challenges within six months of the loss.
If we have this emotion which sits not just in our hearts, our emotional center, but also in the rest of our body and mind, then it also makes sense that it affects our bliss and energy bodies as well. After all, when you’re dealing with loss, you certainly find it more difficult to find bliss. Whether someone is actively grieving or not, their energy is affected. They feel weighed down, as if their heart is heavy.
These losses don’t even have to be acknowledged. Those in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially the trans community, carry heavier collective losses, as do those with chronic illness, autism, or neurodivergence. There are societal collective losses, such as those who have died from COVID-19 or complications surrounding it (or systemic complications such as delaying/denying health care). Among those societal collective losses include those who take their own lives or who have a diminished quality of life due to systemic healthcare issues. No one is immune from these types of losses, and yet very few acknowledge them.
Which means the grief sits, like a lead weight, in the energy body. Lead is a soft metal. It is susceptible to dissolution or chemical erosion, and as such, seeps into the other bodies. It seeps into the mind, the physical body, the energy body, and the bliss body. It fills the body. While we can work to heal grief and move through it, to a large extent that means we grow and strengthen these bodies to become a larger container for the grief. We expand to hold the grief; we don’t let the grief engulf us. Let’s have a conversation about how we do that.