COVID-19 has targeted our lungs, bringing to the surface our personal and collective grief.
Have you heard the saying, “our tissues hold our issues”? Our bodies remember each fall we took as a child, each scraped knee, each angry word hurled at us, each trauma and abuse that we endured, as well as each loving embrace and joyous occasion. In acupuncture and the ancient Chinese medical system, it is known that our lungs store our grief.
There have been many emotions, not just grief, that have come to the surface during this pandemic. Some of us have felt like we have been placed on a see-saw that we cannot get off—the ups of joy, gratitude, creativity, and the lows of rage, loss, sadness, betrayal, confusion, and isolation—teeter-tottering from day to day, sometimes minute to minute.
Grief, as I personally feel into the collective, is on the top of the list. It is a grief that is old, stuck, and has been lying dormant for perhaps our whole lives. It is a grief that has exploded these past few years, and reached a boiling point these past few weeks. The grief may be masked in anger, hatred, or confusion, but it is still an overwhelming sense of grief. Do you feel it?
Grief for the Earth—the oil spills, the extinct animals, the deforestation, the weather changes, and on and on.
Grief for the intense divide between people—liberals against conservatives, terrorism, racism, and other forms of pure hatred toward another human being.
Our personal grief—our failures, the hurts we’ve inflicted upon others, our losses, unexplained malaise.
This list goes on and on.
The grief is mine. The grief is yours. The grief is everyone’s. It is the grief of humanity that COVID-19 is opening us to. The question becomes, do we dare open and feel the intensity of this grief, or do we fight it? Do we continue to push it down? Will our collective lungs collapse under the weight of it all, or will we surrender, allow, feel, change?
We must, for our survival, heal our collective hurts and wounds. We must start bridging the great divides that separate our hearts from each other. We must start paying attention to our sweet mama Earth.
And it starts with healing our personal grief, hurts, and wounds. It starts with the radical notion of loving oneself. It starts with being fully present in our own hearts. It starts with taking a breath deep into our lungs—one of gratitude, love, and joy, one of holding with tenderness the grief that is also present.
Grief is literally one breath after another. It is making space for change, knowing that many parts inside will resist. It is not giving up on ourselves when we slide back into old ways and old habits. It is coming back into the space inside our chests that holds the knowing. It is trusting and being present in our bodies, in our lungs, and in our hearts.
Our survival depends on whether or not we allow ourselves to feel and heal our grief.