My husband and I had a chiropractic practice in a small town in Southwest Michigan. He had a patient who would occasionally be driven to her appointments by a friend of hers named Debbie. Debbie’s affect was one of a person who looked lost. She would sit quietly and wait for her friend with her eyes cast downward avoiding eye contact with anyone else in the waiting room. Since we weren’t from Michigan, unbeknown to us Debbie had a tragic story which was, by now, common knowledge in our small town. In September of 1991, Debbie’s oldest son, Anthony, was fishing in rough waters off the pier in town on Lake Michigan when he was swept away by a wave. His body was discovered a week later. He was seventeen years old.
One day Debbie actually came in to see us as a patient, looking even worse than I ever remembered. I was compelled to ask what was wrong as she sat in the waiting room looking very small and teary eyed. She replied it was the day before the anniversary of her son Anthony’s death, and always an excruciatingly painful time for her. In fact, all the holidays, including his birthday, were especially brutal. Sixteen years after his death her response to his memory had now become ritualistic in nature, including day long graveside vigils sitting on the ground and sobbing. I sat next to her and held her hand and asked her if she would accept a gift from me. Blinking through tears, barely able to speak, she nodded “yes.”
I began with the painfully obvious, and worked my way forward.
Even though my entire being can’t accept the fact that you’re gone, I love and accept who I am, and I honor myself for trying to keep you with me. [Reminder phrase 1st round] I can’t believe you’re gone, I won’t believe it. [2nd round] I’ll dishonor your memory if I let you go, I’m afraid to let go.
I accept myself even though a part of me died with you. [Reminder phrase] A part of my self is gone forever, you didn’t die alone, mom died too.
Even though I’ll never get over the way you died, I choose to be grateful for our time together and celebrate your life...[Reminder phrase 1st round] I’ll never get over the way you died [2nd round] I’m so grateful you were born, and I’ll celebrate your life; I’m so happy I had you as long as I did.
With each of those phrases Debbie released big sighs of relief, and was amazed by how much better she felt, how relaxed she was. We had now unleashed a steady flow of memories, so I followed her lead. She said,
I had this recurring dream every night before they found him. We’re both together in the water trying to reach for each others hands while he’s calling out to me for help---and no matter how hard I try, I can’t reach his hand. I still have them regularly; it takes me days to shake it off.
Out of respect to all of my EFT clients who represent a variety of different faiths, unless I happen to know it resonates with them, I refrain from using any religious connotations during my sessions. Debbie is a deeply religious Christian.
Even though I couldn’t reach out far enough to save you, I trust you took the hand of Jesus, and he safely led you home.[Reminder phrase] I couldn’t save you, but Jesus did. You’re safe in the hands of Jesus. Handing you over to Jesus, and trusting in the Lord.
With that round she exclaimed she felt elated, and no matter how she tested it, couldn’t seem to replicate the terrible guilt and sadness that she’d been feeling for years:
Actually, I feel a flood of warmth wash over me-- almost like warm water being poured over my head, and a tingling rush of energy all through my arms and legs!
Now Debbie was crying again, but this time with relief. She said that she felt light as a feather and hugged me. And for the first time I saw a smile on her face that was so bright, it was as if the sun was bursting out from behind a dark cloud. Her eyes were gleaming as she said goodbye and bounded out of the room. Since the next day was the anniversary of her son’s death, I asked her to give me a call and let me know how she was doing.
Instead, the next day she stopped by the clinic on her way home from the cemetery, and she had the most beautiful smile on her face! Her energies were completely different. She was bouncy and upbeat! Debbie happily announced that instead of sitting all day on a blanket at his grave site crying and grieving as she did for the past 16 years, she took flowers and balloons and released them as a celebration of his life.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gift to me, Dr. Rossanna.” This time my eyes were welling up with tears. As I tapped to regain my composure, I made her promise to periodically check back with me as the holidays were approaching.
Right before Christmas, I received a very animated phone call from Debbie who happily reported that for the first time since Anthony’s death she actually decorated her own Christmas tree without being coaxed by her family. And she enjoyed it immensely! Filled with the Christmas spirit, she even pulled out the old ornaments her son Anthony had made in school when he was little, and hung them on the tree in his honor because he loved Christmas too. She told me:
This Christmas feels so wonderfully different. It’s always been my favorite time of the year! I can’t believe how good I feel! Merry Christmas to you, Dr. Rossanna. God bless you.
Imagine the enormity of EFT’s impact, illustrated here by providing such a positive and powerful emotional shift in a session that lasted only twenty minutes. After 16 years of excessive grief, it’s gone in twenty minutes.
Grief, with it’s varying stages, is a normal process. EFT does not erase new grief, or even make you forget the subject you’re grieving for. What it does do is desensitize excessive, panicky grief --- the kind that makes you want to die, too. Because it is a self-help tool, we are now capable of having an easier transition to life re-adjusted. An easier, kinder, and gentler way to reach inner peace and the clarity to move on with our lives.
Dr. Rossanna Massey
Originally published on February 12, 2011.