It’s complete common sense, and yet it’s also revolutionary when compared to the 'normal' approaches to healing. It’s an easy idea to follow, and yet it applies to even the most complex of situations and healing options. And I’m sure that, without it, healing after my miscarriage and the death of my infant son would have been far more challenging than it was.
This idea is called “The Six Steps of Healing” and it’s part of the Wise Woman Tradition of Healing. My mentor, Susun Weed, created these steps of healing and taught them to me during my 13-week, live-in apprenticeship with her in 2014. Since then, I have shared them with dozens of people, and I have used them as the basis of my approach to empowered healing here at Tiny Giant Losses. So, basically, they’re kind of a big deal as far as I’m concerned! They are the very marrow of wise and empowered healing (be it emotional, physical or otherwise), and that’s why I’d like to share them with you here today.
The Six Steps of Healing are based around the idea of effective treatment with minimal harm. The lowest numbered steps have the least potential for harm, while Step Six has the most potential for harm. This makes choosing the safest AND most effective options easy to do (without a lot of research and hassle--that's the last thing you need right now, Mama!).
You can begin with whichever step feels right for you now in your journey. You can work with one step at a time, or work with several steps at a time. It’s up to you.
Let’s take a look at the steps:
Step Zero: Do Nothing
Examples: sleep, meditate, turn off your computer and other devices, take time for silence
It’s not the same as not doing anything! It’s an active form of healing, despite its placid appearances. I find that “doing nothing” helps me tap into suppressed grief, take time to cry, and gain insights into my healing process.
Step Zero on Tiny Giant Losses: Guided meditations! If you’re not at the “Meditator” level or above, you can still sleep more, unplug as often as possible, take some time to be silent and meditate at home. Consider this to be your official permission to do so as needed, starting now!
Step One: Collect Information
Examples: read, use story medicine, use tarot or other means of divination, seek low-tech diagnosis
Information helps us make informed decisions about our own healing journeys. In particular, if you’re considering a more potentially damaging approach to healing in your journey (such as antidepressant pills or sleeping pills), then consider collecting information on the safest way to do so first.
Step One on Tiny Giant Losses: The resources guide received by Patrons at $3+ per month lists more than 200 books, movies, websites, etc., all to help you collect information about loss and healing. In the Goals section, you’ll also see that there are several goals involving reviews of baby loss healing resources (books and films). And story medicine is something I address in detail in the “Why” document, which is shared at $7+ per month.)
Step Two: Engage the Energy
Examples: ceremony, prayer, chanting, affirmations, support group meetings, laughter
Even though these approaches don’t have a direct chemical effect on the body (like food or drugs do), they allow the body and mind to heal in many powerful ways, especially after a loss.
Step Two on Tiny Giant Losses: Laugh yoga and story medicine! Also, in the Goals, you’ll see Moon Lodge meetings. I am SO excited to get to offer those to all of you soon! They can be deeply healing.
Step Three: Nourish and Tonify
Examples: nourishing dietary choices (such as whole grains, cooked veggies, organic animal products, fermented foods, mushrooms, seaweed, olive oil as your dietary oil, and nourishing herbal infusions), low-impact exercises and stretches, gentle massage, hugs
Supporting your body and emotional well-being with nourishing foods, gentle exercise, hugs, etc. can make an enormous difference in your healing journey. If you think of these approaches as a core part of your self-care after a loss, your healing journey will flow much more easily.
Step Three on Tiny Giant Losses: Regular yoga classes are in the Goals section. I would be thrilled to offer yoga for grounding, for releasing stress / grief and for tonifying after baby loss! I'll also talk about nourishment in patron blog posts and on the Internet radio show (also described in the Goals section).
Note: Everything after this step has the potential for harm. The potential for harm increases with each step.
Step Four: Stimulate / Sedate
Examples: hot / cold treatments, caffeine, many herbal tinctures, harder massage techniques, acupuncture
Grief can really shake us up and knock us out. Sometimes, we all find ourselves in situations that don’t allow for a panic attack, sudden exhaustion or our other physical responses to grief and trauma. These approaches help us get through these situations unscathed.
Step Four on Tiny Giant Losses: Everyone at $5+ per month gets access to Patron-only posts, including how to make an antianxiety tincture, herbal baths for post-loss healing, and more.
Step Five A: Use Supplements
Examples: vitamin / mineral supplements, concentrated food substances (such as bran, blue-green algae, brewer's yeast and most powdered foods)
Supplements are often marketed to us as ways to be healthy without really trying. While some may do in a pinch, they are no substitute for true nourishment.
Step Five A on Tiny Giant Losses: When TGL reaches the $75 per month goal, we’ll look at how to identify hidden supplements and opt for real foods whenever possible.
Step Five B: Use Drugs
Examples: pills, hormone treatments, potentially toxic herbs
Sometimes, people who have experienced a loss need to use prescription drugs, and that’s OK. Sometimes, gentler steps are just as effective (and less damaging).
Step Five B on Tiny Giant Losses: When TGL reaches the $75 per month goal, we’ll look at which antidepressants and antianxiety medications are the safest and least addictive, plus we’ll consider some possible herbal alternatives to prescription drugs. Over time, the patron-only blog posts will also cover the use of hormones in fertility treatments.
Step Six: Break and Enter
Examples: surgery, invasive diagnostic tests, chemotherapy, colonics, psychoactive drugs, violent language
With The Steps of Healing, we start where we are. When we lose a baby, we often start at “Break and Enter” with a broken heart. Using The Steps of Healing, we can gently work our way down from Step Six to effective and minimally damaging healing methods.
Step Six on Tiny Giant Losses: When TGL reaches the $75 per month goal, we’ll talk in detail about what it means to have a 'broken heart' and what 'starting where you are' means for our healing processes.
I am so excited to share more about healing after baby loss with The Steps of Healing when we reach the $75 per month goal here on Patreon!
In the meantime, where do you see your healing work in the steps above? For me, it’s:
- Step Six: a broken heart
- Step Four: an antianxiety tincture, an antidepressant tincture and, sometimes, caffeine
- Step Three: nourishing foods, low-impact exercises and stretches and lots of hugs
- Step Two: story medicine, ceremony, affirmations, support group meetings, laughter
- Step One: these days, it's mostly research for TGL
- Step Zero: meditation, extra sleep as needed and unplugging whenever possible
I look forward to hearing about where YOU are in your healing journey!
PS -- You can also read more about The Steps of Healing in three of Susun Weed’s wonderful books on healing:
- WISE WOMAN HERBAL FOR THE CHILDBEARING YEAR
- DOWN THERE: SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH THE WISE WOMAN WAY
- NEW MENOPAUSAL YEARS THE WISE WOMAN WAY
Susun uses the steps as an organizational framework for the healing methods she describes.