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26 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j u l y/a u g u s t 2 0 2 3 By Til Luchau KEY POINTS • Bodily change is inevitable, whether related to aging, injury, surgery, or other reasons, and these changes can bring about feelings of fear, grief, and loss. • Although there may be no way to completely relieve the existential pathos of aging and physical change, in our role as practitioners, we can be both companions and comforters to our clients who are experiencing physical and emotional loss. Letting Go Is All We Have to Hold On To The Bittersweet Beauty of Aging and Loss THE SOMATIC EDGE I notice the time first: It's 2:08 a.m. on the bedside clock. Then, I see in the moonlight that my wife is sitting up in bed, curled forward, hugging her knees. Almost 10 years after her double mastectomy, the grief of losing her breasts is finally present for her. I touch her back. We talk. At the time of the surgery, she says, she just wanted to get on with her life. Waking up after anesthesia, looking down at her chest, the first thought she allowed herself was, "Well, the surgeon did a good job—nice and f lat." I watched as her brave face and stoic nature got her through a difficult recovery. Why dwell on sadness when there's nothing to be done anyway? The previous body isn't coming back in any case. Now, years later, the tears come. Loss, sadness, grief. Sitting with her in the quiet moonlight, my chest aches too. Her quiet sorrow gently breaks my heart. It's a bittersweet variety of heartbreak, particular to this stage of life, when even the most stoic among us are faced with unavoidable evidence that our bodies are no longer young. It's bitter, because there is loss, sadness, and grief. But at times, like this moment in the moonlight with my wife of nearly 40 years, being an aging human is also strangely sweet: Alongside the pain, there's also tenderness, poignancy, and a deep well of love that opens when we touch into the inevitability and vulnerability of loss that we all face. I'm getting to know loss so well. In my body, though I haven't been through what my wife has, the signs of aging are very clear. As they are with my friends and family: We are more wrinkled, creakier, and talk more about our latest medical news. One is recovering from a stroke, another TECHNIQUE

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