Massage for Grief
With grief comes the emotional, mental, and spiritual pain of a loss, but the physical aspect of grieving can be unexpected. After a loss, aches, sore shoulders, headaches, a painful jaw. insomnia and appetite changes can cause fatigue and irritability.
Massage therapy can be beneficial in the early stages of grief, particularly the first 6 months, helping one to continue moving through the process by providing holistic mind-body-spirit support for loss.
Loss is a huge part of the human experience which affects everyone, and it should be embraced just as happiness is. Through the basic human need for touch, massage tells the grieving person that it is OK to fully experience whatever it is they’re feeling in the moment. The therapists is a neutral person who the client may confide in and trust with their emotions
While massage doesn’t alleviate the sense of sadness, despair, and hopelessness associated with grief, it will allow the person to feel more physically relaxed, less anxious, and less depressed. Massage will help alleviate some of the physical discomfort associated with early bereavement, having a restorative effect on the nervous system, providing respite and strength for the body amid the overwhelming emotional, mental, and spiritual pain of loss.
This is due to the effect of massage on the fight or flight response and its ability to reduce the release of cortisol, the stress hormone and promote release of serotonin and dopamine which enhance mood.
It can be difficult to even try to process emotions because of physical discomfort. but when able to relax, release tension, and acknowledge these emotions without being distracted by physical aches. One can then start to deal with their loss
Grieving clients often experience increased sensitivity to pressure, and a firm or deep massage can be overwhelming and even make the client prone to next-day soreness, and there also seems to be an increased potential for emotional release. Massage for the grieving client therefore, tends to be slower and lighter than the normal Swedish massage. Abdominal massage can also be particularly beneficial, as anxiety, and grief can cause pain to build at this centrepoint. Massaging around the solar plexus and sacral chakras will encourage a deeper more meditative breathing to occur, promote optimism, self esteem, confidence and happiness, allowing the client to relax and open up to trust in the future.