Loss is unmistakeable.
We remember the moment when everything changed.
We knew life would never be the same and it feels as if our hearts just break.
Those experiencing a broken heart often describe the physical sensation of deep pain in the chest. This pain may have some very real underpinnings.
A 2012 study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science examined the overlap between socio-emotional pain and physical pain. Researchers found that emotional pain following loss may rely on the same neural circuitry responsible for physical pain.
Like physical pain, grief can take your breath away, it ebbs and flows, some days are better than others and like physical pain, it can become chronic.In the midst of grief we often feel overwhelmed and don’t have any idea how to heal. Acknowledging the physical pain of loss can reduce its effect and provide a new way of relating to the grief process.
So how do we heal a broken heart?
One answer to this question is to recognize the pain of loss as actual physical pain and ask what is the kindest, most comforting thing that can be done right now for this pain, emotional and physical? Often grief specific pain management techniques like breathing, meditation, and relaxation focusing on the physical pain can provide some welcome relief for an ailing heart.
Reference: Eisenberger, Naomi I.Bowen. (2012). Broken Hearts and Broken Bones: A Neural Perspective on the Similarities Between Social and Physical Pain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol 21 no 1, 42-47.