No, I’m not a physician, or even a Doctor of Acupuncture (yet), but this quote has been resonating with me. This past week, we dropped our amazing daughter off at college. This is an exciting and awesome thing, and something to be celebrated for sure. We’re incredibly lucky to be able to send her to college 400+ miles away, and she worked very hard to get there… and yet I’m left feeling bereft. My daughter G has a bright, warm, expansive personality and presence, and the house feels so quiet and empty without her. My son C is still in high school, and he’s another fabulous human, but he is much quieter than his sister, and therefore doesn’t fill the house in the same way. (He’s also less likely to perch in the kitchen with Netflix blaring for hours at a time…)

The second day after we arrived back home, I trudged around in a fog, and spent many hours just sitting. I felt dazed and tired and depleted, although I’d slept more than eight hours the night before. My stomach ached and I didn’t feel very hungry. I noticed myself sighing a lot. Also (this web site is about health, so yes, I’m going to go there), on that day I experienced several severe bouts of diarrhea, although I hadn’t eaten much, or eaten anything unusual. I wondered what on earth was going on. (“GROSS! WHY IS SHE TALKING ABOUT THIS?” I can hear you asking. I promise I have an answer, and it has to do with Chinese medicine!) As I sat, feeling sad and tired, I pondered: isn’t it interesting that my lungs and large intestine, the organs associated with the metal element in Chinese medicine, are so tanked today? The metal element is also associated with the season of fall, pungent flavor, the color white, the sound of weeping, the odor of rotten, and the emotion of… grief. Grief is what I was experiencing, and the emotion of grief is particularly injurious to the lungs and large intestine– specifically, to the qi of the lungs and large intestine. I thought: well that makes sense, all the sighing and diarrhea. Of course. Sigh.

Should this diverge too far into the metaphorical for my hard science friends, I’ve got something for you, too! Research shows that grief impacts our physical body in measurable ways, including cortisol levels and general immune function. 

It’s been almost a week since we dropped her off, and I am doing better. I’m breathing more deeply, and my large intestine function is back to normal. I’m sure you’re thrilled to know that. 

If you are experiencing grief, or any of its physical manifestations, and you are interested in seeing if Chinese medicine can help to ease your symptoms, please reach out to me (or to a practitioner in your area). I would welcome the opportunity to support you.

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