Sensory Perception

After my husband died, there were days when I didn’t talk to anyone. I would go for a week without human touch. That summer my daughter was staying with me for a while. One night she just started rubbing my feet. It brought tears to me. I realised how sensory deprived I had become.

Thought is not our only avenue of perception. Our bodies grieve, as well as our minds and hearts. And our senses connect us directly to that grief. For me, listening to old favourite music reminds me of forgotten moments. Smelling a campfire gives me an intense vision of my husband stoking the fire with a big smile on his face. For some people a piece of art, a poem, or stoking a pet can be a catalyst that unblocks an aspect of their grief. For others, engaging in a creative process allows understanding to emerge – whether that be painting, writing, movement or music making.

Have you attended to your senses since your spouse died? You might sit outside and take in all that your senses perceive. You might listen to classical music or go to an art museum or a play. Perhaps you have tried journaling, massage or art therapy, pottery or woodworking. Engaging our senses and creativity can uncover grief that otherwise might fester beneath the surface and hinder healing in both mind and body.

Play some favourite calming music for your reflection today. Experience your body touching your clothes, your chair, Attend to your fingertips and your breathing. Be in your body. When you are ready, you can conclude with:

Creator God, thank you for giving me a body with five senses through which to perceive the world around me and the world within me. Give me the grace to engage with my senses, so they can reveal and heal the grief my body holds. Open my senses to the beauty and meaning around me. Give me the courage to join you in the act of creating, that you might heal and enliven my spirit. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. – Psalm 34: 9a