Very often my clients will think that they’ve completely recovered from losing a loved one, when in actuality, there’s still quite a bit of pain hidden beneath the surface of their awareness. And while they may not be conscious of this grief, it is still affecting nearly every aspect of their lives.
Because it so reliably reveals hidden aspects of grief, at some point during their course of treatment, I always ask my clients the following question:
If you had the opportunity to speak to the person who passed away and could say anything to him or her without fear of repercussions of any kind (hurting his or her feelings, angering him or her, etc.), what would you say?
Here are some of the responses I frequently hear:
I miss you.
I love you.
I feel lost without you.
I wish you were still here.
I don’t want to let go of my grief because it makes me feel close to you.
Thank you for everything you did for me.
I’m sorry (that you suffered so much/that I hurt you/that someone else hurt you/that your life was hard/that you were unhappy).
I’m angry at you because ________________.
I wish you had _____________________.
I wish I had ____________________.
When using this technique with my clients, I have them close their eyes and imagine their loved one’s face. Then I ask them the question.
If you could speak to the person who passed away without fear of repercussions of any kind, what would you say?
When they answer it, if their response has an emotional charge (and it nearly always does), I use it as a tapping statement, and we tap it through the points until it’s neutral.
Usually, there is more than one thing that they want to say, so we repeat this process until they feel complete with it, meaning they have nothing more to say that feels emotionally charged for them.
THE ULTIMATE LONG DISTANCE CALL
The deep (and often unconscious) need many people have to speak from their heart to loved ones who have passed away is poignantly addressed in a segment of the public radio show This American Life. In this segment, called Really Long Distance, the show’s producers travel to Japan to visit a non-functioning phone booth to which thousands of people who lost loved ones in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami have gone in order to pour their hearts out to the deceased.
I’ve listened to this segment twice, and both times I was struck by how cathartic the practice was for those who did it, and also how truly healing it would be if these people tapped while saying what they have to say. For while catharsis provides temporary relief from the pain of loss, tapping permanently releases it.
Needless to say, the gulf between temporary relief and permanent healing is as deep as it is wide. Listening to the bereaved people on the show tearfully implore their loved ones from a phone booth in the middle of nowhere had me wishing that they all had EFT to help them heal.
Here’s a link to the episode if you’d like to listen to it.
WHY THIS TECHNIQUE IS SO EFFECTIVE
There are many reasons why this question so reliably uncovers hidden aspects of grief. Here are some of the primary ones:
It addresses and heals feelings of longing and sadness.
It reveals and releases the pain of unmet needs in relation to the deceased.
It uncovers and heals the pain of unfinished business with the deceased.
It uncovers and heals feelings of guilt and regret about the deceased.
It brings to the surface and releases anger and resentment about the deceased.
In my work with clients, I've noticed many times that when I ask questions like, “Do you have any regrets about your loved one who passed away?” or “Do you have any anger or resentment toward this person?” most people will say no. However, when I address these same questions by asking what they would say to their deceased loved one, I'm often able to uncover the hidden feelings that I suspect are there.
Why is that? In my experience, it’s because these questions aren’t able to penetrate beneath the level of the conscious mind. It’s too easy to briefly consider these questions, and not seeing anything there on the surface, say no.
But when brought, by the power of imagination, face to face with someone dear who has died, and then been invited to speak to them with no filter or fear, what lies beneath the surface of conscious awareness is suddenly free to rise up and be heard. And once it’s heard, thanks to tapping, it can be healed.
When doing EFT/tapping on your own, if you get stuck, aren't getting the results you want, or would simply like to have the support and guidance of an experienced professional, I recommend working with an EFT practitioner. To schedule a session with me, click here. If you feel that another EFT practitioner would be a better fit for you, click here to access a directory of practitioners.
BY HEATHER AMBLER
Heather Ambler is a San Francisco Bay Area based teacher and practitioner of EFT, writer, speaker, and founder of The 30-Day Tapping Challenge. Through her private practice and online programs, she has helped many thousands of people all over the world use EFT to find freedom from suffering and release the inner obstacles that were keeping them from living their best life. To learn more about Heather, click here.