Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - Wallowing??? Or, Grieving in a Healthy Way???

Thursday's Therapy


Or, Grieving in a Healthy Way???

So how exactly do we grieve in a healthy way?

A member of one of the grieving groups to which I belong came onto the site the other day and posted an excoriating warning to those of us who often are drowning in our grief. In essence, her warning was,

"Stop wallowing!"


"Let the sunshine in!"

Well, my first reaction of course was, "How dare she?!" We have finally found some sites onto which we can go to share our desperate cries of grief, and she comes on, as a fellow griever mind you, to say, basically, "Get over it already!" I was repulsed as were many other respondees. Yet I was surprised to read just as many other respondees saying, "This is the best advice I ever received!" What gives?, I thought.

Your system has been assaulted, and you're trying to crawl out of this hole you're in. Yet you don't have the energy to crawl out of it. And you don't know how to crawl out of it. The hole is there; you didn't ask for this hole. This wasn't one of your life goals to go through life as a zombie, barely able to crawl out of bed.

This is about TRAUMA. You are NOT wallowing. You are CRYING OUT for help.

If you could do it yourself, you WOULD HAVE.

So here is a safe place, away from the world, with other people who can understand, and you risk your heart enough to speak up, to cry out a bit of the drastic pain in which you find yourself, and one of your own comes along and blasts you out of the water? I don't think so!

People typically go to a therapist to deal with pain which they've been unable to grapple with alone. And THE most important thing for that therapy room is to be a SAFE PLACE. There may be a time for firm (but loving) confrontation down the road, after the relationship is well established (so that you know what the therapist is saying is said out of love). But to come out blasting just because you are in DEEP PAIN. Who needs that?

If you are uncomfortable with my pain, move on, but don't come out swinging!

Wallowing is an insult to a griever -- we aren't trying to be miserable; we ARE miserable, and are crying out for help -- HOW do I find the comfort that I need? And just hearing there are other people going through the very similar hell that you are is, in some ways, a relief. At least we are not alone in our pain.

But then someone comes along to redefine the comfort we are seeking for our terrible pain we never asked for, to say somehow we ARE WANTING TO BE IN PAIN, AS WE ARE JUST WALLOWING IN IT! GRRR! Don't get me started!

Wallowing is something a pig does, wallows in the mud because it feels good. The mud feels good to the skin and cools him off. The pig is not even trying to be miserable! So perhaps he is even innately trying to self-soothe.

But this mother was using "wallow" with a negative, accusatory context. Don't begrudge a griever his or her benign attempts to self-soothe, PLEASE.

(See more on the pig below ~ not that we are pigs mind-you... we are just looking at health-seeking behaviors that can be found in Mother Nature!)


Okay, let's look inside Mother Nature and see the potential benefits for wallowing, let's say for the common pig…

In a new study published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, the study's leader, Marc Bracke, determined that temperature regulation seems to be the main motivation for wallowing (in animals such as the pig); (but) he also found that even in colder weather, pigs will still wallow in the mud.

While pigs have very few sweat glands, the mud is the best way to regulate their temperature as the cool water evaporation through the mud is slower than if they just took a dip in cool water.

…The common perception is that pigs wallow mainly for cooling, sunburn protection and the removal of ecto-parasites. Little scientific evidence exists for other functions than thermoregulation.

Pigs lack functional sweat glands and wallowing in mud is an effective behavioural control mechanism in pigs to prevent hyperthermia.

...Wallowing, i.e. coating the body surface with mud, is a natural behaviour of pigs, commonly observed in feral pigs and wild boar, but rarely provided for in current housing systems for domestic pigs.

Bracke also points out that the wallowing behavior of pigs contributes to their wellbeing and that farmers who do not provide wallowing areas for pigs are creating serious animal welfare issues.

Similar to farmers who have eliminated foraging from other farm animals have seen welfare issues such as feather pecking and tail biting; Bracke believes the wallowing of pigs is a necessary action for their wellbeing.


So too I might ask the nay-saying-griever, what if what-you-call-"wallowing," I call "giving-our-sorrow-words"?

I think Shakespeare was wisest when he so astutely observed:

"Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break."

In my less-than-literary (okay, much-less-than-literary) voice, I say:

If you don't allow us to "wallow" in peace, and in safety, we just might start pecking your feathers and biting your tail, so fellow-nay-saying-griever, BE WARNED!!!

What do you think? (Or, do you dare to tell me?!)

Picture and research on "wallowing" in nature - found at


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