By Amy Lindholm
Georgena Eggleston, MA, has been supporting people in grief since 2002. She began her professional life as a speech pathologist but later became inspired to train as a somatic therapist and became certified as a Rubenfeld Synergist. Her own grief journey also profoundly influenced her desire to support clients who have experienced trauma including suicide or multiple losses. Today Georgena has a thriving practice which combines both talk and body work to help clients move through and, in her words, “beyond their grief.”
On your website, you share your personal grief story. How did your losses influence your decision to help others in grief?
In 1994, I had a kind of epiphany in a women’s group. I wanted to learn to “listen differently” to others as a way of healing. I did not know where that would take me. A three-year span followed in which I experienced the death of my brother, father in law, mother, father and teenage son. Both my brother and my son, Reed, died by suicide. Shortly before my son’s death I had the opportunity to begin training in the Rubenfeld method. After he died, I thought to myself I don’t know how but somehow I am going to get through this grief. The training was one way. Not only would this training equip me to become a somatic therapist, but also it was the modality for revealing my OWN healing, health and wholeness.
How do you use this special certification as a Rubenfeld Synergist in your work with grief clients?
I believe that grief lives in the body. This method allows people to deeply listen to their body. They begin to hear its messages and understand its metaphors. They begin to believe and trust that the body tells the truth.When you are shattered by grief, it is difficult to trust anyone or anything. My clients learn to trust themselves, connect to Spirit within, feel and release embodied trauma and grief.They leave grounded. They often tell me, “It feels like I have come home to myself at long last!”
You use the phrases “intentional mourning” and “conscious grieving” in describing the work you do. What might that mean for someone who is just beginning a grief journey?
Intentional – or mindful – mourning refers to the process in which deep, sometimes anguished feelings emerge as grief through wailing, crying, sobbing or expressing emotions. It can happen in the presence of others or in solitude.
Conscious Grieving means you understand that grief has many facets: physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social and spiritual. Secondly, you allow yourself to feel, listen to and experience the release of fear. Thirdly it involves exploring the tools of curiosity, discovery, object permanence, and self-care as supports to move through and beyond grief. In therapy this happens through a method called Listening Touch.
How do you help people to move past the natural fear that might come up when they think about intentionally or consciously focusing on their grief?
I reflect their fears a back to them. I also ask certain questions that help clients begin to safely “lean into” their fears.
What do you love most about your current work?
I love feeling the grief and decades old trauma literally leave their body through my hands and the look of surprise and awe on a client’s face as they see how different they look actually reflects how good they feel.
What inspires you?
My clients who come for a recent grief only to discover and release a decades old grief in a single session. The speed and power of this method is amazing!!
Do you see your work as a kind of calling?
This is really what I signed on to do. I am still refining the system that I shared in my book that allows people to wean their eyes from that gap in the air and return to the hearth of their Soul where their Beloved has awaited their return all along.
What do you find yourself speaking to the most as an issue when working with those who are grieving?
I find that I am often giving people permission to confidently experience the ups and downs of grief with full permission to enjoy the highs without guilt. I also help them to tell a new story about this loss, their part in it and recover and rebuild their life.
What still surprises you about the way grief is treated in our society?
I am astounded that people think there is something wrong with you if you are “Still grieving” after 90 days!
What are some of the pervasive myths about grief and about grief therapy?
There are many but here are a few of the most harmful.
- My heart will always have this wound. I will never be happy again.
- My grief and mourning should be focused on my departed. Self-care is selfish.
- I must do grief alone. No one can possibly understand the pain I am going through.
- No good can come from grief and loss.
What refreshes you and fills your cup?
My daily spiritual practice of inspirational reading from books and sacred texts, meditation, cleansing my energy field, prayer (I pray with a Prayer Partner three times each week) and Yoga by the Willamette River!
What do you think most distinguishes grief work/therapy from other kinds of therapy?
For me, what really distinguishes grief work (for or any loss) is the pain of the resistance to the way it is now. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment. When someone has a loss or trauma, it cannot be changed back to the way it was before. The house can be rebuilt that was lost in the fire but it’s not going to be THAT house with those pictures. Grief is not something to fix. It’s not a disease to cure. But it’s also not a life sentence. You will always be evolving and growing as a person.
Georgena treats clients, writes, teaches, facilitates workshops and speaks to groups and organizations. She can be reached through her website: www.beyondyourgrief.com