Bereavement Massage – Swedish Massage

Berevement Massage:

Using massage as a coping mechanism for the grieving process pre and post death of a loved one. Bereavement massage seeks to mechanically stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and restore” response that occurs once a perceived threat is past.  When muscles relax and anti-stress hormones are released, the body can re-balance itself.

It has been documented that massage help decrease stress and depression, two symptoms very common with grief and bereavement. Three massage sessions during a 12-day period can create harmony between our body, mind and soul, through calming and nurturing the neurological system of the body, hence, having bereavement massage, is beneficial to a host of people suffering a loss of a baby or child, loss of a job, retrenchment, failed IVF treatment or early or late miscarriage and a host of other situations i.e. parent’s death or diagnosis of terminal sickness etc. Further massage done correctly can assist the body to maintain this shift, balancing the person further as they process all the feeling and health response to the situation their body is dealing with.

When a family member, friend or loved one passes away, varying degrees of emotional and physical pressure can weigh down on the human body. Mental and emotional fatigue can take days, weeks or even years to conclude as we each process and deal with emotions and thoughts differently and at different times.
To help release some of these common pressures associated with mourning and lift any burden that you might be carrying around, it may be helpful to use massage as a healthy mental, physical and spiritual outlet during your grieving process.

Massage Therapy can provide relief from stress and physical tension, Massage is known to be able to assist in alleviating headaches and body aches and pains which occur during the grieving process. Receiving Massage whilst mourning can provide comfort and nurturing. It can also allow someone to have some well-needed quiet time away from the situation.
Plus, it can also help them to relax and encourage much needed sleep.

Reasons for receiving bereavement massage?

  • Emotions of sorrow and confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pain – especially of the neck, head and back
  • Anxiety or anger
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Chest pain or breathing difficulties
  • Palpitations

Benefits to bereavement massage:

  • Massage can loosen tight muscles and can have a calming and balancing effect on your nervous system
  • Massage can improve overall sense of well-being and energy levels
  • Massage can bring relief from your headaches caused by tension
  • Massage can improve your circulation and breathing
  • Massage can assist in alleviating the physical and emotional stress stored in your body
  • Massage helps your lymphatic drainage system to get rid of toxins and thus revitalize your blood flow
  • Massage mentally allows you to totally ‘switch-off’ giving you time to bring new thoughts into your mind.

Mourning should be an individual process

The grieving process can include different stages for everyone that can happen at various times after you’ve lost a loved one. However, no two people will grieve in the same ways, for the same time frame. The process is individual and should be approached in a manner that you’re comfortable with and that meets your specific needs. As you face the emotional and physical challenges that are involved in the process, it’s important to remember to take one step at a time and to not keep feelings bottled up inside.

Keeping your feelings inside isn’t usually good for the body, mind or spirit, it causes imbalance and eventually disease of the body’s functions. There isn’t one right or wrong way to mourn, so everyone should be allowed to grieve on their own terms. As a therapist, I try to always respect and honor my clients’ grieving process. I try to be supportive, comforting and just be present for each person in that particular moment.

Surrounding yourself with loving and compassionate friends or family members may be helpful for sharing your feelings when you’re ready to connect. Or, if you don’t prefer to express yourself by talking, then writing in a journal can sometimes be a powerful and freeing tool. Finding a quiet place where you can meditate, pray or be still also can help soothe the spirit, as well as seeking the calmness of nature to clear your mind and release your emotions may be helpful, or for some crying and screaming out loud, listening to loud music, one never knows what or how one is going to respond until one is faced with the moment when grief feels so overwhelming and needs to be released.

Power of Touch Can Help Heal Physical Conditions

In addition to the emotional fatigue and pain that is common for someone who is mourning, physical conditions such as headaches, body and joint aches, and insomnia also can be present during the grieving process. Releasing physical pain and tension with massage can not only help your body feel better, it can also be beneficial for improving your mental state, as specific types of massage assist in releasing positive endorphins if done correctly. When your body isn’t in pain and you feel better physically, your mental outlook on life can in turn lead toward a more positive nature. Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand throughout your daily life but, it’s important to focus on both during the grieving process. The two can feed off each other negatively if both aren’t addressed, or they both can work together to promote healing and rejuvenation. The power of massage can be a powerful tool for helping bring together a more harmonious state of mental and physical health.

Emotional Releases Can Lead to a Healing Heart

As you embark on the journey of healing a hurting heart, regular massage therapy sessions that focus on nurturing your mind, body and spirit can lead to powerful results. Combinational massage sessions, using different techniques and modalities for example one that combines a mix of relaxing Swedish strokes with some lighter level deep tissue massage technique works to not only soothe the mind and body, but also pulls out any heavy energy that you may be carrying around and to put forth a more peaceful and compassionate energy. As time progresses it may be appropriate to add in some deeper work, stretching and mobilization techniques to open up blocked energy areas and alleviate more of the physical manifestations that may be present during your grieving process.

I believe massage provides a wonderful way to receive comfort and nurturing in a non-judgmental way, which allows the body to process feelings and emotions and helps one to move through the 7 paths of grieving, which really do occur.

Swedish Massage:

As the name suggests, this type of massage originated in Sweden in the 1830s, Swedish fencing instructor Per Henrik Ling reportedly cured his elbow injuries using percussion strokes around the affected area. In the years that followed, he developed the other strokes used by massage therapists today.

Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massage therapy. It’s often used to relax you, relieve mental and physical stress and relieve certain types of neurological pain.
Swedish massage is known to increase oxygenation of the blood and release metabolic waste such as lactic and uric acids from the muscle tissue.

Swedish Massage can effectively release and alleviate muscle knots by targeting tension and promoting relaxation. However, the complete elimination of knots may require multiple sessions depending on the severity and individual response. Results can vary depending on the individual and the specific knots. Besides breaking up the pain-spasm-pain cycle, massage brings new blood supply, and with-it oxygen and nutrients, so muscles can function properly. Some muscles become rock hard when the supply of blood is less available. Breaking up the physical knots and bringing oxygen in will gradually restore normal function.

That crunchy feeling can be, scar tissue, metabolic waste builds up, or facial adhesion’s in your muscles. Knots in muscles can be present in both superficial muscles, like the Trapezius, and deeper ones like the rhomboids, which reside under the Trapezius

It is the common basis of sports massage, but it is not sports massage, Sports massage uses different techniques and deeper pressure. This can be particularly important for athletes who build up lactic acid in their muscles, because the massage can dislodge the build-up and replace it with fresh oxygenated blood.

Swedish massage technique can also assist in alleviating emotional stress and has other therapeutic uses and can assist in bringing relief to those suffering from the list below:

Stiff necks
Crunchy shoulders
Tight back muscles
Painful hips or buttocks
Leg, knee and foot pain
Nerve pain
Muscle knots (Trigger Points)
Stress and Anxiety

The 5 main Swedish massage techniques were developed by Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling, a physical therapist, developer, and teacher of medical gymnastics.

Long sweeping strokes that alternate between firm and light pressure and can be performed using the palm of the hand or the fingertips. The knots and tension in the muscles tend to get broken down with this technique.

Kneading strokes on the muscles of the body to attain deeper massage penetration. The thumbs and the knuckles of the fingers are used to knead the muscles and
to squeeze them to prepare them for the further treatment.

Tapotement or Rhythmic Tapping
Rhythmic tapping are strokes that use the fists of the cupped hands.
This helps to loosen and relax the muscles being manipulated and also helps to energize them. The sides of the hands are also used.

These strokes create heat to bring about relaxation of the muscles.
The palms of the hands are rubbed together vigorously and placed on the skin, or they are rubbed directly onto the skin of the client.
This technique can be used as a warm-up for preparing the relevant muscles of the body for deeper massage.

Vibration or Shaking
Strokes loosen up the muscles through a back and forth action of the fingertips or the heel of the hand over the skin.
The muscles of the body are literally shaken up to cause them to loosen and relax.
The sides of the hand, and any part of the hand such as the tips or heel, can be used by the masseuse to shake up the muscles of the client.

While Swedish massage offers numerous benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Some potential drawbacks of Swedish massage include:
Limited effectiveness in treating chronic pain or deep muscle tension.
May not provide the level of pressure and intensity required for individuals with specific muscular issues.