Experiencing Body Grief
I came across a clip of an interview from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with actor Andrew Garfield. In the interview Andrew shared his thoughts on grief after losing his mother. He had said, “grief is all the unexpressed love I didn’t get to tell her”. (Linked above to watch. Fair warning you might get emotional when hearing him speak. I know I did!)
I had never heard that explanation before and it was so powerful and true to me.
In thinking about this I’ve noticed how grief shows up in the work I do with my clients. It’s a natural human experience to feel grief after any type of loss.
Noticing your body change can bring about a sense of loss and feelings of grief come with it. For instance, I’ve had many people tell me how they look back at pictures of themselves in a younger and sometimes smaller body. They might say something like, “I had viewed myself so harshly and was unhappy and self-conscious almost all the time. I wish I could go back in time and appreciate my body more and just be kinder to myself”.
I think part of the grief comes from unexpressed love and kindness towards ourselves. You may wish that you could have done things differently or had more perspective. There’s a loss in knowing you won’t be able to do that and can’t change the past.
Showing love, compassion and kindness towards your body is very challenging. It’s challenging because our culture spreads hurtful messages about bodies (especially people in larger bodies) and creates a hierarchy of bodies with those at the top expecting to be the most deserving and worthy. This notion is of course wrong.
While we can’t go back in time and change our thoughts or actions, part of the work in finding body acceptance through grief is practicing self-compassion with yourself in the here and now.
I say practice because it’s not easy and it requires effort and awareness. You may be unhappy with how your body is now, but kindness, compassion and love towards yourself is what you deserve. It’s what you’ve always deserved.
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Picture above is by Daniel Christie on Unsplash