Grief, Feeling our Feelings and Empathy

A story of sadness and its gifts

Saturday afternoon I became aware of deep sadness in me.

I saw one or two articles about the death of George Floyd in the US. I purposefully chose not to watch the video. I knew those images would be imprinted in my mind and they usually re-visit me just as I’m trying to fall asleep.

The articles upset me enough to write something about it on my personal FB profile about anti-racism and caring about our common humanity.

Late Saturday night I received an email from Avaaz (a global network of 60 million people). They wrote down George’s words during the last 7 minutes of his life.

Those words were just about the saddest thing I’d ever read. They floored me. I went to bed with a heavy heart.

Tapping Call

As providence would have it, I had the opportunity to attend a 30 min tapping call at 8 am on Sunday morning, hosted by my dear friend Bennie Naude. I’m not an early riser and 10 mins before the call I was still wondering whether I’d be awake enough to attend. And then, I suddenly knew I had to. I was only a minute late. ?

On the call were only 3 other people – Bennie, and 2 others I knew well. We each had a chance to share what was hard for us.

When it was my turn, I mentioned the upset about George Floyd’s death. And my distress and sadness about the state of our world…. all the division, separation, conspiracy theories, and shaming going on. I’d been shocked by some respected mentors who were now supporting certain people who I feel disgusted by. My mind just couldn’t take it in.

It wasn’t even 3 minutes before I was in tears.

I was suddenly aware that I was in mourning for “our normal” that has changed so much in just a few short months.

As I was tapping and crying, I heard myself say “I’m not f*&^ing willing for it to be this way!”.

That made me (and the others) laugh a bit. “Yep”, I thought “I’m feeling the anger and denial stages of grief, both at once!”

The Gifts

During the session, the other 3 people were completely silent while I did my own tapping for the waves of sadness. There were many minutes of silence. Just tapping, wordlessly, together.

One of the people there is a grief doula … and once or twice during the call, all he did was ask me to take a breath with him. So simple. And so very, very kind and empathic.

“Being with me in my grief” and not trying to change it or fix it.
Allowing me the chance to fully feel it, while being safely held and cared for.

The 2 gifts from this session were

• the silent, kind witnessing, and
• I still had relatively intense sadness by the end of the 30-minute call

Yes, I did release big waves of the grief. Yet I still felt like crying, I was still fighting against this new reality, and was in a very pensive, introspective mood.

Why was this a gift?

In my practice, I want everyone to feel better after a session with me. I want them to go away feeling 100% free of the issue they brought to the session. Then I feel I did my work well.

This experience on a Sunday morning had me realise a few things:

  • The work is not always done in one session. And that is okay!
  • I don’t need to take responsibility for the feelings of another person. They’re resourceful and mature enough to be able to take care of those feelings themselves. Just like I was.

We were all practitioners of some kind on that call… and everyone felt the gifts from realising this.

Sometimes it’s necessary for us to leave a session still reeling, still sad, still upset, still not having a resolution. Sometimes we’d been suppressing or repressing our feelings for a long time, and it needs some really good airtime.

They knew I was a practitioner and would be wise enough to reach out to others if I was struggling with intensity.

Empathy

The safety and empathy I felt on that call had me realise with clarity how important the talent and skills of “empathy” are.

My fellow tappers were there, giving me the chance to deeply experience my emotions, every last piece of it.

Never once did they suggest I could just see things in a different way, or think about it from a different angle. Never once did they intervene or tell me what to tap for.

They listened, held space, in silence, while I felt my feelings. With respect for the process.

It helped me really, really understand how wonderful it feels to be on the receiving side of ‘empathy’.

Empathy says:

“I’m here with you. Feel your feelings. I will listen. I am here with you. Feel them all. They’re yours. They’re valid. It’s okay for you to feel them. They’re all welcome here.”

No need to fix, change, force, make better right away.

What a profound gift, to be on the receiving end of such kindness.

Credit:
Image by danielaceronmarin10 from Pixabay

Liesel Teversham
Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.

She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Click here to read about the book.

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