Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Pit

The day that Flynn died a cavity opened in my body, a painful dark hole in the centre of my being.  I called it the pit.  It was such a physical feeling that at times I felt that I could reach into my torso and grab it, hold it but never release it from myself.  At the time of Flynn's death I was undernourished, sleep deprived and ravished with grief,  I thought I was going crazy, possibly developing a tumor possibly a figment of my challenged mind.  I was terrified to tell people, support people, about the physicality of the pit, the emptiness that was not a feeling but a presence.
The location of the pit was exactly in my centre, two inches below my sternum and two inches above my belly button.  It was not an organ either, it was too low to be my heart (although that ached) and too high to be my stomach (because that grumbled).  It started out the size of an orange, although on any given day it could vary in size from a grapefruit to an apricot and I could feel it in my torso when I moved, breathed or ate.  IN fact it was so solid that most days it filled me and I could not eat, it contaminated my insides and made it impossible to want anything more inside.  It was the physical feeling of grief that I did not expect or hear about.  It created a sense of distress in me that only fed the hollowness of the pit.
With days, weeks and then months of processing the pit ebbed and with a narrative of my story being shared with others who were bereaved the pit began to heal.  The hollowness went from the size of an orange pressing on my heart, lungs and stomach to a walnut sized reminder of where I had been and what I had survived.  Again the physicality of that pit became the scar tissue that I could touch and feel when I encountered a grief burst or was struck by a trigger.  It would ache or pulse just enough to say "I am here."
As I began my work to support other people who experience grief, I began to hear stories of other people's pits.  Those physical holes that present themselves in our bodies as a reminder, a painful reality check, a touchstone.  It became therapeutic for me and the people who shared their pits to know that this was not a sign of dementia but one more affect of grief on the body and spirit.
My pit shows itself still, eight years later, normally as a growing pain in my journey, a touchstone in reality.  But at times, when I am feeling vulnerable, overtired, undernourished, it can feel like scar tissue stretched and exposed to remind me that it is there and I need to take care of me and it.
I used to feel abnormal and terrified of the pit and with time I have come to know it as my gauge of self awareness and self care.  The reminder to look after me on this journey.  Thank you pit.


  1. I have often wondered how to describe, explain, or even understand the "pit" that has stayed with me for over three years, and I found your blot through the facebook page on grief. When you graphically described it as the scar tissue that is stretched and exposed, that touched me so deeply, and I said to myself, "that's it", that is what I have been feeling since Allison left this earth. I am happy to have found your blog. While I do have my own, www.thisistheday-kathy.blogspot.com, there are some things my own words cannot describe, but yours do. Thanking you, Kathy

  2. Thank you for explaining the 'pit' so well, and the scar tissue left behind. I can only relate too well. I didn't know an event could hurt so much physically until I lost my daughter prematurely. Thanks for sharing.
    Karin (http://mybutterflytears.blogspot.com/)

  3. I call mine the black hole. If you let it...it will suck the life out of you. Nonetheless, it is a physical compass to your overall wellness and spiritual state of realization. A scale of balance if you will.