What's My Alternative: Reiki For Grief

By Nicole Duncan

A year after her mother’s death, Donna Franklin’s tailbone started hurting—just like it did in the days following her mother’s funeral. “The emotional grief I was holding on to for that year lay heavy in my heart and finally began to surface as physical pain in my sacrum,” says the 50-year-old from Buda, Texas.

The Conventional Rx: Doctors suggested analgesics and stretching to help ease Franklin’s pain. But the stretching didn’t help her discomfort—it aggravated it—and the analgesics provided only temporary relief.

The Alternative Rx: Reiki healing. Last Christmas, Franklin received a reiki session from her niece, a massage therapist and reiki practi–tioner. “My niece placed her hands slightly above my body—palms down, fingers and thumbs extended—in 12 to 15 different positions. I felt the heat from her hands over the energy centers, or chakras, in my body. When her hands were over my heart chakra, I began sobbing uncontrollably and felt a tremendous emotional release.”

Pamela Miles, a reiki practitioner in New York City and authorof Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide (Tarcher, 2008), explains why: “This treatment helps you move into a profound state of relaxation, where your nervous system can reset itself. Your nervous system stops holding tension on
its own, similar to when a child falls asleep gripping a piece of candy and their hand relaxes and opens, releasing the candy.”

The outcome: For Franklin, reiki provided a much-needed release of the pent-up emotions that were causing her physical pain. “In just one session, I felt a tremendous burden lifted from my spirit, and the pain in my tailbone disappeared,” she said. “When I started sobbing, I realized that only by accepting my mother’s death could I be freed from this grief that had weighed me down for a year.” Now, 13 months later, even though Franklin still mourns the loss of her mother, the pain in her tailbone has not returned.