I had a session with a woman last week who had lost her loved one suddenly 2 months ago. After the funeral and the outpouring of sympathy and support from family and friends, things settle down. And then, in the stillness, the grieving continues.
Time spent with friends can be uncomfortable. The story of our loss isn’t front page news anymore. They ask how we are and hope that our response will be brief. Conversation goes back to normal life stuff, maybe even things to laugh about. But those who are grieving feel separate and alone in these normalized social settings.
So in our session, I told her she could just feel whatever she needed, that she didn’t have to take care of me in any way. I told it was okay to cry, that she didn’t need to do anything to minimize how hard it still is to go through every day. I was deeply aware that she needed a place to keep grieving for as long as she needs, and that it is valuable to have someone else present as a witness to share it all with.
Being physically held and comforted is something we all need, and never more than at times like these. Yet our culture teaches us to minimize our need. But there is strength in vulnerability, in asking for support.
When we are allowed and supported to feel everything that we hold, we feel less alone, lighter, more able to go on. We can’t think ourselves out of our difficult feelings. And sometimes that means that we need to be held.