Grief Work and Body Image: How Grief Helps In Your Journey of Body Neutrality

Grief Work Body Image
  • Grieve for the fantasy in which your body was the key to feeling confident, happy, peaceful, present, and worthy.
  • Grieve for the fantasy in which looking “good enough” meant your partner would never cheat or leave you, suffering would disappear, sex would be amazing, and your mother would finally be proud of you.

Let your heart break. The world you’ve been inventing sounds beautiful, but it’s not real. That’s worth letting your heart break over.

I wish your body really had that much power, for your sake. I wish finding the right exercise routine really would make you safe and happy and in control; I wish the way to fight fatphobic oppression was to get thin enough; I wish all your problems really did come from the way you look.

That would be a lot easier. But that’s now how it works. Instead, all we have if the grief-shuttle from there to here. Let your heart break until you get to the other shore, and acceptance becomes possible.

If you’re new to grief work and body image, here’s where you can start.

1. Recognize and identify

Recognize and identify any areas in which you’ve been harbouring fantasies or magical thinking when it comes to your body or appearance. 

What lies have you been telling yourself? What alternative realities have you been living in? Name who or what needs to die for you to let go of that fantasy and move on. That’s the first step in grief work and body image!

Related: 12 Tips To Self-Love And Compassion

2. Grieve the loss

Grieve the loss of that fantasy, reality, idea, person, place, or thing the same way you would a beloved person

Let your heart break and feel it all. Note that this step can require a lot of time, energy, and support.

Related video:

3. Find joy and acceptance on the other side.

Without that fantasy version of yourself haunting you, you are now free to look in the mirror and be good enough as you are. Without that alternative reality haunting you, you are now free to notice, accept, embrace, enjoy, and engage in this one.

Related: The Five Stages Of Grief: Exploring The Kübler-Ross Model

4. Repeat as needed forever.

Life is sad and messy and for those of us who are highly sensitive, we may need to be constantly dipping in and out of grief work. When the pandemic hit I grieved for weeks the loss of my plans with my boyfriend, my idea of how life should be, my life in Los Angeles. I just bought a new computer and I’m still grieving the loss of my old one. You may need to go through a new phase of grief as you age and mourn the body you once had, or as you go through a transition like pregnancy, injury, illness, or menopause. That’s ok.

Grief is a skill, and an ongoing conversion with reality.

Learn it, use it well, and use it often in your body image journey.

Are you ready to engage in grief work and body image?

Written by: Jessi Kneeland
Originally appeared on:
Republished with permission

Grief Work Body Image Pin
Grief Work and Body Image: How Grief Helps In Your Journey of Body Neutrality
Pages: 1 2 3

Jessi Kneeland

Jessi is a TEDx speaker, body image coach, iPEC certified life coach and fitness expert. She now spends most of her time blogging and coaching clients to break through barriers to optimal health and self-love. Her mission is to help women like you identify, work through, heal, and release your “body image issues,” using a unique process of combining mindset shifts and emotional healing, along with tapping into the innate wisdom of the physical body through movement. She has written for and been featured in many major publications, including Women's Health Magazine, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, Health Magazine, Greatist, and Buzzfeed.View Author posts