Grief and chronic pain can take you places. Places most people would never dare to go.
Most of us spend our lifetime avoiding pain because of course, who wants to feel pain?
But some of us don’t have that luxury because pain is part of our everyday lives, for months, years or even a lifetime. The thing is, pain can teach us, transform us, grow us and expand us, if we can allow it.
As a motivational speaker and indigenous singer, I’m not going to talk here about things like medication or even natural remedies. You can see a doctor or practitioner for those. What I want to share here is how to live with pain and grief, in ways that support the body, mind and spirit.
We often distract ourselves from pain so we don’t have to feel it. But sometimes that’s impossible or just not a great idea. If it’s bearable to be present with some of the pain, put a timer on and give it your love and attention. Maybe it’s just one part of your body and then you get back to distraction. Maybe you give your attention to your emotions. If you can bring yourself into a sort of meditation, it can be easier. You could put on some meditative music, breathe and listen to the pain. Be present for it. Ask it what message it has for you or why it’s here. You might be surprised at the answers you get from your own body.
I’m not saying to dwell on the pain, by the way. What I mean is, it can be exhausting and unhealthy always running away from, avoiding or stuffing down the pain. On the flipside, what I’ve been finding is, if I sort of go into the pain, really be present with it, for short bursts of time, honestly sometimes the pain goes away for a while or decreases, and while that’s happening, that act of being present lifts my vibrational frequency and other parts of me start to feel better.
IMPORTANT: Don’t overwhelm yourself by being present with too much of the pain for too long. Only you know where your edge is. Go to your edge and then ease off. Note this is not a replacement for therapy or a medical doctor. Do get the support you need as well.
A word about distraction: It’s much better for us to do the things we love than to spend a lot of time distracting ourselves with things that aren’t great for us. Plus, when you do something you enjoy, you’re expanding and raising your vibrational frequency, which opens doors of possibility and opportunity for you as well. To be fully transparent, I sometimes spend too little time on doing the things I love, and too much time distracting myself. So yeah, I get it, and I’m learning too. But even if you take 20 minutes out of your day to do something you love, instead of spending that time on a distraction, it’s incredibly healing and uplifting, and magically, the pain will often decrease or maybe even go away for a while. I’ll be straight up – sometimes it might get worse, which is why I recommend putting on a timer and going easy on yourself, especially if the pain you feel is intense and chronic. If it does get worse though, it’s probably because it’s trying to complete itself with you and move out of your body.
Some things I’ve learned from my personal experience with chronic pain, grief (emotional pain) and injuries:
1. Pain can be very draining. It can steal away your energy and make you wonder why you’re so tired. Honour that tiredness. If you feel drained, let yourself rest and relax more often.
2. Words are important. I do my best not to own the pain that is in my body. I don’t like saying “my pain” because that infers that it belongs to me and will always be with me. I call it “the pain” instead, to remind myself that all pain is temporary.
3. Give yourself a time limit for outings. If you know you get tired easily or the pain is just too much when you’re out and about, or that you won’t feel like being around people for long, set a time limit and tell your friends what time you need to go home.
4. Self-Care is crucial. Sometimes it feels easier to distract ourselves from the pain by doing too much. But if we do that, we can exhaust ourselves even more. Sometimes pain is a messenger telling you to slow down. Take time for yourself. Heal. Listen to healing music.
5. Energize yourself to get through your daily routine or to have some fun with friends. Also, fun with friends might be one way to energize yourself! Listen to your favourite music. Watch silly videos. Laugh! Get your body moving in ways that feel good to you. Do what lights you up. Since I’m a singer-songwriter, the best things I can do are sing, listen to my own music or play around with creating new songs.
6. Find ways to socialize that feel good to you – and yes, sometimes you really do get to distract yourself from the pain. Pain can be very isolating. Right now I can barely go down my stairs, much less say go out dancing or walking like I normally would. Give your body what it needs and find things to do that fit with your needs and self-care plan.
7. Sleep is sacred. Do what you can to get a good sleep. I tend to toss and turn all night but I have a few tips to get a better sleep. Sleepitate. Someone in my mentor’s group made that up lol. Yes, meditate yourself to sleep. If pain is present, let it be there with you and show it some love. If extra pillows, an aromatherapy essential oil diffuser, soft cushy blankets, healing music, guided meditations, or a giant teddy bear (or whatever!) help, get them for yourself. Full Disclosure: I have all of the above for different occasions. Yep.
Love yourself. Also give love and attention to the pain. Acknowledge the pain and whatever parts of you are experiencing pain. Sometimes all it wants is to be seen. Sometimes it needs some love. Other times, it’s trying to leave your body and can’t leave until you feel it, love it and let it go. And yes, some pain is not so temporary and will be with you for a long time, so love your way through it and be as present as you can for YOU.
Questions about the article? Leave a comment below. I’m sure it will help others too.
Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman