If you’ve taken any of my classes, you may be familiar with the idea that different parts of the body correspond to specific processes we do through. Liver is anger, the neck is creativity, shoulders are the pressures we put on ourselves, low back pain can be emotions we don’t want to look at, and so forth.
Lung issues are frequently grief, especially for me. When my best friend suddenly passed away in 2007, I took a sharp breath in, a gasp really, and didn’t let it back out for months. It created medical issues that I’m still dealing with. In every subsequent loss, I have made a point of reminding myself to breathe, no matter what.
The months leading up to the thinning of the veils, April and October, are my most grief-full months. Anniversaries of trauma or loss are tenuous times for people. We are given the opportunity, each cycle, to process anew and to achieve new levels of healing and understanding. (As an aside, Chinese Medicine associates the lungs with autumn.)
Last October, my father died. In some traditions, the tradition is to mourn your dead for a full year, and I can see why. You might be amazed how foggy one can get in grief – giving yourself a year is the compassionate thing to do. This latest loss adds to pre-existing grief, layering, like too-thick paint on a wall. But I endeavor to breathe, to process, to allow the grief to do what it needs to do, without fighting it. We are moving into that time of honoring the ancestors, so I at least have practice and tradition to lean on.
Mostly, though, the breath. It’s something tangible to focus on. Breathing.