by Anna Witholt Aurora
More than a year into the pandemic and our lives have still not returned to normal. Almost every day I give thanks for the fact that in Maine, we have been relatively safe and so blessed with an abundance of outdoor activities that have helped many of us stay somewhat sane and connected through this challenging year.
But my heart goes out to those people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, without being able to be by their side due to hospital safety precautions or inability to travel. Not only has COVID-19 taken so many lives – I think about how painful the grief process must be, no matter the cause of death, when there isn’t the kind of closure we all would hope for when a loved one is passing.
Family Constellation work, offered here at Camden Whole Health, is a groundbreaking healing modality that can be especially helpful in situations where unresolved grief is preventing a person from moving on. This can be true in cases where loss was never fully processed in the past (for instance, if a parent died suddenly and a child was just too young to understand and cope with the loss), or in the current global situation we find ourselves in, where the natural grief process of being by a loved one’s side as they are dying has been completely interrupted.
A Family Constellation Facilitator can help a client move through a grief process that has become stuck, by helping them to connect with their loved one on an emotional level and express thoughts and feelings that could not be shared in real life. In a private session, this happens by allowing the client to share their story and then inviting them to represent their loved one with a chair, footprints or a figurine. This helps the client imagine their loved one’s presence and move from “just talking about it” to a more holistic, embodied approach that invites all levels of the client’s experience (the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) to be accessed and expressed. All of this happens in a gentle, organic fashion where the client determines what they wish to explore, at what pace they wish to go, and to what extent. Not only does this process create room to express thoughts and feelings that had become stuck and inaccessible, but through the facilitator’s gentle guidance there is also a possibility for a sense of connection with the deceased, resolution and completion. Often, after 3-5 sessions a client will feel a remarkable shift in terms of their grief – while sadness about losing a loved one doesn’t just disappear, they may report feeling less heavy, less stuck, less numb, less depressed, more in the present, more connected to their loved one on a soul level, more able to feel, more available to life again, +and more at peace.
It’s important to note that for many, the pandemic has also brought on a cluster of other types of losses: e.g. loss of social structures and support systems, loss of social connections and friendships, financial losses, employment losses (whether that be actual job loss, job insecurity or loss of job relationships and structure), relationship break-ups, even loss of alone time or couples’ time, especially for parents working from home. In addition, these losses have often created increased stress within family units and intimate relationships. While we have all had to adapt and find ways to make the best of it, it’s important to recognize when certain losses, changes or sacrifices are having such an impact on our quality of life that it’s creating ongoing negativity or suffering. Here too, having a safe and confidential space to address these difficulties can bring great relief, shift interpersonal dynamics, support new coping skills and make room for positive change.
Anna Witholt Aurora is a certified Family Constellation Facilitator and a Life Coach and offers individual sessions (and groups, once that is safe to do so) at Camden Whole Health on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information or to book a session, please visit www.soulmoves.me.