Within the spectrum of emotions that shape human experience, nothing quite parallels the devastating loss of a loved one and the grief that follows.
Yoga therapist Donna Brooks learned this firsthand when her son passed away in July 2020.
“I got a phone call that Michael was in the hospital. I knew it was serious because a doctor called me and told me I needed to get there right away – and that he had had a blood clot that traveled up to his heart,” Donna recalls.
“Then, right as I’m about to get my car, my daughter calls me and tells me my son died. And I literally collapsed. It was like the ground wasn’t there, and I just fell to the floor.”
Sadly, on the heels of a global pandemic, we live in a time when the experience of loss and grief is all too common.
In this free download, yoga therapist shares her experience and her ongoing struggles learning to cope with the loss of her son.
With the passing of her son, Donna soon came to the realization that she was not alone in her experience of grief.
“To be alive is to experience loss and there are many, many different ways of experiencing loss,” Donna elaborates.
Whether it’s caused by the death of family members, losing a job, losing touch with friends, missing community, or the loss of our own youth in the process of aging, we all have experienced some degree of grief.
Grief and loss are part of being human, and the body inherently knows how to cope with these experiences. But when we are blocked from mourning, things can go awry. Donna explains:
“Grief is a natural process and an inevitable process. But our culture doesn’t encourage grief. By and large, something happens, and you’re supposed to get over it and get back to work. But that stops the unwinding of the trauma. And when it stops the unwinding of trauma, it freezes us. And that’s when depression sets in.”
What’s more, when we spend too long swept away in feelings of shock and loss, we can disconnect with the feeling of being in our bodies.
And the more we turn away from the body’s innate wisdom, the more difficult it is to come to terms with the reality of life and loss.
For Donna, her son’s passing caused her to feel firsthand the potential to lose her sense of self. She quickly realized she was faced with a fork in the road.
She could either remain permanently collapsed in grief or she could look for a way to move through the murky waters of the many emotions she felt.
Guess which she chose?
“I’ve lived by a philosophy that says, the only way out is through,” Donna says.
Donna’s 40 years of experience in somatically based body practice provided her an understanding of how to safely honor her feelings of loss, grief, and sadness while remaining anchored to the experience of embodied presence.
Supporting the natural unwinding of grief with embodiment skills was an asset to Donna’s resilience. Her process also provided her with a framework for assisting others in integrating their experience of loss and difficult transitions in life.
Click above to access this free download interview with Donna to learn more about her personal journey through grief and preview the ways yoga can help during times of transition and loss.
You may also be interested in Donna Brooks’ course: Stepping Safely into the Chaos of Grief: Embodiment Tools for Meeting Loss and Difficult