On Communal Grieving

“Shake it out,” we say in InterPlay.

“Shake out your right hand.”

“Shake out your left hand.”

“Shake out both hands.”

“Shake out your voice, and while you’re at it, shake out what you’re sitting on.”

This is our practice because bodies have a tendency to hold on to stuff, to become tight and tense, and forget to let go of what may have been a reaction to something that happened this morning, or yesterday, or five years ago. I remember learning in my Pilates training that a muscle that is tight can not be strengthened. And if a body is busy holding tight to something in the past, it can’t have a full experience of something new in the present moment.

Our nation has had a lot to shake out lately as we have been mourning the horrific violence, injury and death of innocent people in Tucson. Several of my women friends who don’t stay close to news outlets and didn’t know about the event, reported feeling unexplained sadness or extreme tiredness on that day. Those of us who heard the news and watched it on television knew what we were reacting to, but most likely not the extent of its impact on us.

We mourned then for the victims and the community. Now we mourn for our country and for our sense of safety in public places. We mourn for ourselves, for the loss of confidence in the belief that if we lead good lives and fulfill our responsibilities, we will be spared bad things happening to us and to our family members. Most of all, we mourn the loss of the illusion that we can know what is in store for us in our lives.

So we rely on healthy rituals to get us through. We create memorials with flowers and candles. We participate in a prayer vigil. We meditate together in a moment of silence, honoring the lives lost and these who served them. We hug our own loved ones more often and extra tight. And through it all and afterwards, we need to remember our bodies are not built to hold such atrocities. We need to remember to keep shaking it out.

One thought on “On Communal Grieving

  1. Such beautiful wonderfully insightful comments, Sheila. Truly our culture is, appropriately so, in a kind of communal grieving. Yours is a voice of wisdom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts AND your body wisdom …
    Best, Carol H.

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