It’s difficult to look back. And it hurts to remember. September 11, 2001. It was a day, and it was an eternity. It’s when grief stole America’s smile, and when the air of an entire city was thick with dust and death.
On the eleventh day of September, 2001, I awoke to a crisp northern New York state morning, the best of blue skies and an audible fall crunch in the air. I am New York City-born, so I remember those fall days well. I was in Rochester, N.Y., to present my work on the “somatic aspects” of grief. It was 9:01 a.m. as I stood in front of my class.
A New York voice. An intentional pause between measured words. A snippet of emotion piercing the moment. A perseverance shining through a tired soul. This was retired New York City firefighter and massage therapist James Kearney telling his story in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Time to Help,
Time to Heal
Some gave money, some gave time.
Some gave blood, some gave love.
Some gave prayers, some gave touch.
Some gave tears, some gave hugs.
Some gave everything.
By Karrie Mowen (Osborn)
The phone calls I received in our offices the day of the Sept. 11 attacks were indicative of the shock that had enveloped a nation.
The use of somatic treatments to address grief is both the unique factor and the integral part of the success of the Degriefing process. Treating the physical body is what differentiates Degriefing from other therapies that rely solely on talk to affect the healing of grief after loss. Grief is the body’s innate reaction to loss and the symptomology is complex, multi-faceted and case-specific. As we approach the body filled with grief, we must recognize the work is like delicately peeling back the petals on a lotus flower.
“Grief is the most available, untapped emotional resource for personal transformation.”
Holding space is one of those phrases that evokes furrowed brows and quizzical expressions from the uninitiated. Like comedian George Carlin’s popularized use of such oxymorons as “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence,” holding space presents its own contradictory challenges in the world of grief and bodywork. Yet, it is a critical element in the Degriefing process.