Acupuncture for grief, bereavement and loss

Grief is a natural reaction to a major loss or bereavement, and less extreme feelings of grief, yearning, or regret accompany the loss of valued possessions or lost opportunities and dreams. Grief may also lead to physical symptoms such as digestive problems, exhaustion, headache or sinus or chest infections. Because Chinese Medicine views mind, body and spirit as a single connected up system, it provide a perfect basis for treating people who are suffering this way.


Each of us deals with loss differently and will go through various stages of reaction. I may see you soon after a bereavement or relationship breakup, when you need help to cope with the overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief. Or I may see you later for what appear to be mainly physical symptoms which stem back to a series of losses which have gradually weakened your system. Each acupuncture point that I choose to use for treating you as an individual can bring both emotional and physical benefits. For example, I may choose a point called Zhongfu, Central Treasury, which can both raise your low spirits and also strengthen your sinus and lungs to fight off infection.

Chinese medicine makes particular connections between each emotion and different parts of our physical body. The emotion of grief is especially linked to the lung and the respiratory system. I have several patients who came for help with recurrent chest infections that are partly a result of having to deal with a series of losses of friends or family members. Not that grief is the only reason for respiratory symptoms – Chinese medicine usually offers many alternative explanations to explore.

Of course acupuncture cannot instantly take away the feelings of grief and sadness, but it can aid the healing process and help you to let go and not to get stuck. Acupuncture works by strengthening and moving your Qi – translated as energy or life-force. Grief makes Qi ‘disappear’, leaving a void, or a feeling of emptiness and hollowness. Extreme emotion can also interfere with the smooth flow of Qi – for example, grief is often felt in the chest and the stuck Qi gives us the feeling of ‘choking up’. In these circumstances acupuncture can build up your Qi, bring it back into balance and smooth movement – thereby helping you to recover in mind, body and spirit.

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