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you hold it in your body.

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July 27, 2022

The Sacredness of Witnessing

The most healing experiences are usually the most vulnerable.

When I think about what has been the most transformative, nourishing, helpful experiences for my grief since my mom died, I know that it has nothing to do with what people said. There were no “right” words-in fact I hardly remember any particulars of what people said to me following her loss at all.

The moments that stick out the most are the times when I was fully, unflinchingly seen, head on, in my grief.

Dear friends and family who rubbed my back, my hand and simply gazed at me while I cried and shook and moaned and said who knows what. The “yes”, “you’re not alone” and “I’ve got you” was implicit. Their bodies said it all.

And more often than not, being fully seen in my grief was uncomfortable. My skin is tingling a bit even as I write this now-remembering how absolutely naked that felt.
I also know that this witnessing is exactly what widened my own capacity to hold my own grief. When I saw, repeatedly, that others were not freaked out by my grief even as it often felt far too much for me, I believed them.

And if it wasn’t too much for them, maybe it wasn’t too much for me.

The most healing experiences were also the most uncomfortable.

I see and hear a lot of grieving people doubt themselves, their own experiences of grief, past experiences of grief support. “It just didn’t feel right…I don’t know…”

Yes, you do know. You know how other people have responded to you and your grief. Their bodies said it all, and you can trust how that made you feel.

So, I know what a big ask it is to trust yourself to be witnessed and held at your most vulnerable by someone who is usually a stranger.

And if you do decide to take this leap, let it be with someone who honors and values the sacredness of witnessing.

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