Energy is an important part of daily living. It takes energy to do everything in life, from getting out of bed in the morning, to saying hi to someone in the street, to eating dinner and relaxing with the people closest to you. The energy used to create a relationship is different than the energy it takes to keep that relationship going. In Chinese Medicine, we label those different types of energies: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood - the 5 Elements.

Within this model, Fire energy is the energy required to form relationships with the people around us (we will learn more about Fire at a later date) but, it is up to Metal to keep these relationships alive. Having strong Metal energy allows us to bind ourselves to another person in friendship, business relationships, or marriage. This bond can also bind us to more material things such as a home or a favorite toy or keepsake. It can also bind us to a special hobby or lifestyle, or to a pet or other animal. When any of these bonds break or is injured for any reason, grief is the result. The Grief Recovery Method defines grief as: a normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Of itself, grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Traditionally we are taught 5 stages of grief (the Kuber-Ross Model): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. In reality however, it often doesn't feel that smooth. More often, it feels a bit more like a rollercoaster - ups and downs, twists and turns along the way. There are many theories about grief, but a few basic items remain the same - community support (through grief counseling, social media, or coffee with friends) and self-care are the most important aspects of working through grief.

When we are emotionally grieving, our body will start to follow suit. Even in short term grief, like dropping a favorite mug, our bodies start to constrict and shut down. Because this Metal energy is also in charge of releasing waste and toxins from the body, grief can cause shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and constipation. This buildup of waste and toxins means bacteria and viruses also have difficulty being dispelled by the body and weakens our immune system. This continues to affect the body until we are able to let go. This time period varies from person to person and also with the severity of grief felt. I am not suggesting that we push aside grief and try to move on more quickly - life doesn't work that way. I am saying that it is important to nourish that Metal energy through the grief. This will keep the immune system strong, our digestive system working more thoroughly, and allow our lungs to breathe more deeply.

The best thing you can do to nourish Metal, is to breathe. Take some time each day to do some breathing meditation, look for the beauty around us, and most importantly pay attention to your self care. Cleaning is an act of letting go, so when a grieving person is ready, cleaning can be very therapeutic. It can include anything from sweeping the floor to going through a loved one's closet.

Grief is a very difficult emotion to sit with and be with. It is important that we acknowledge its presence in our lives. Autumn is the season of grief. Here in Marquette, MI the grief includes breaking the bond we have with summer and the warmth in preparation for the cold, winter months ahead. Take a deep breath and remember the importance of self-care moving forward.