Two Cases of Chronic Back Pain: Grief and Heartache Held in the Back

When I first started my practice, it seemed like a first year internship. Most people had what appeared on the surface to be simple issues: back pain, phobias, anger, grief, etc. I had yet to learn that most emotional issues, especially those that have somatosized (taken root) into the body, are more like icebergs where the majority of the trauma is hidden just under the surface.

Seventeen years of back pain released in moments

One day in the first year of my practice I taught an introduction to EFT class at a senior citizens community. I had finished the basics on EFT tapping and asked for a volunteer when a woman in her mid-70’s came forward. Immediately she began to cry.

“I lost my son 17 years ago,” she sobbed.

I glanced at the audience. A few women were wiping away tears. Nobody moved. At that instant, guidance came to the rescue. One word appeared in my mind with the perception it had just been whispered there from over my left shoulder.


I reached for the woman’s hand.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son. Seventeen years is a long time, and I think your son would not want you to suffer this way. You can let go of the grief without letting go of your son. You can stay connected to him through love instead of pain. Can you accept this?”

She nodded. “Yes, I want to let this go.”

I said, “Ok, just follow along with the tapping. Do what I do and repeat what I say. It won’t hurt.”

We tapped:

“Even though I lost my son 17 years ago, and even though I’ve never gotten over it, it’s safe to let this grief and pain go now. Even though part of me wants to hold on to my son through this grief, I choose to stay connected to him through our love for each other instead of this pain.”

We simply tapped “this grief and pain, this heartache, I miss my son,” over and over on all the points for the first round, then followed immediately with a second round of “this remaining grief and pain, this remaining loss, this remaining heartache.”

After two rounds, I asked her to rate the grief on the 0-10 scale. (There was no need to rate it at the beginning; she was clearly a 10+) She paused for a moment, both hands over her heart and said, “I feel peaceful now. I think it’s gone.” Then she hugged me and returned to her seat.

The next day I called to check on her. She said that she’d slept well for the first time in the 17 years since her son died, and her chronic back pain, for which she’d seen doctors, chiropractors, therapists and taken pain medication for years, had vanished. I asked if her son had taken his own life, and she confirmed that he had.

That early session taught me to always ask, “Where do you feel that in your body?” I correlate that information with the chakra system, and it gives me a wealth of information about the possible originating traumas that could be fueling the problem. For example, her back pain was centered in her upper mid-back, where the back heart chakra is located. It’s not hard to see how a person might internalize a loved one’s suicide as a betrayal, a “stab in the back.” That horrific suicide, combined with the crushing grief of losing a child, was carried “on her back.”

Grief shuts down creativity in an artist

Another mother, an artist, manifested the grief over losing all three of her children by shutting herself down creatively.

This client, a prolific artist in her mid-70’s I’ll call Gladys, came in because she was unable to find the focus and joy she used to have for her art. At first I thought she might be depressed, but as we talked, that didn’t seem to be the case, at least in the clinical sense.

I wasn’t doing medical intuitive readings yet, but was able to get to the root of her problem another way. I had her get on the massage table, fully clothed, and covered her with a blanket. With her permission, I scanned the energy field above her body with my right hand, feeling for blocks or areas that felt disturbed or unbalanced. I felt heavy, stagnant energy in her heart chakra, and her navel chakra appeared to be hollow and closed. I couldn’t feel energy movement there at all. I gently placed one hand on her heart chakra and the other on her navel chakra, and suddenly I knew why her navel chakra, the center of creativity, was closed. I asked about the grief and sorrow I could feel in her heart.

She calmly replied that all three of her adult children had died in their 30’s and 40’s. Her son was shot while riding his bike, one daughter died of breast cancer and the other of a brain aneurysm.

I said, “I think the unresolved grief over losing your children is at the root of this problem with your art.”

She said, “No, it’s not, I think I’ve just lost interest. Maybe I’m just too old.”

I said, as gently as I could, “Gladys, your body is telling me. Why would you want to create anything else when your most precious creations were destroyed?”

She began to cry, and we did some EFT tapping to release the grief and sorrow from her heart. We had two sessions, and later that month I heard from the client who referred her that she was happily painting again.

These two case histories illustrate for us once again the undeniable connection between body and mind.