Scrabble, the body, and grief: a long story.


Can I tell you a story?

Back when Matt and I were first “courting” – not even officially dating – we played our first Scrabble game. I used the word “psoas,’ which he’d never heard. Not only did he feel I’d spelled it wrong, he was also appalled at the wanton and un-strategic use of two s’s.

That Scrabble game was still a topic of dissent and discussion nearly five years later.

One of my favorite memories (and WTF that it’s just a memory, not a still happening thing) is the last game we played, sitting at a table in the window, the fireplace going, the kid somewhere off playing video games in another room.

We talkcc DavidMartynHunted about that very first Scrabble game, and all the things that came out of that night. I’d learned a lot of strategy since then, playing for points rather than for the love of words.



When I placed the word “torqued” on the board, he genuinely smiled, kicked me under the table, and said “you’re going to win this one for real. With a real word, not like ‘psoas.'”

Writing without the deeply personal is not the whole story of grief. To give the whole story, to give as many handholds as possible in the steep climb of grief, we need to hear personal stories. Each Friday, I’ll post something from my own experience of grief and love. It’s an inside look at love, at grief, at life. This week, a current happening inside my own life-after-death. 

Today, that psoas thing returned to me. Hang in there for the story… I can be a bit long-winded as I connect the dots.

For the last few months, I’ve been in a lot of physical pain. I spent the night before my birthday in the hospital, being monitored. My normal somewhat active self has been out on the sidelines, under doctor’s orders not to lift anything, or run, or do anything too stressful. That this fell in a month of packing and moving house was super inconvenient, and that packing and moving is probably what made everything worse in the first place.

Over the last few months, in addition to that physical pain, I’ve felt a little lost. No – not really lost, just overwhelmed with all the things I want to create for you, and with keeping up with all I’ve created so far. There are things I want to write, I need to write, and there just hasn’t been the time.

All of these ideas have made me scattered, and stressed, and the more scattered and stressed, the more I do not get accomplished, and the more my body shouts in pain.

These things are all related.

After a month or so of chasing down symptoms, I’ve finally learned that I have a femoral hernia, and will need minor surgery to correct it. After it’s done, I should be back to my normal activity level.

That’s the physical part.


grief in the body

The poetic part is that a lot of my symptoms are linked to blocked creativity, to the stress of not feeling connected to my core, to my heart, or to love. I don’t say this as a causative thing, like “if you don’t connect with your core, you make yourself sick.”



I mean it as a poetic feedback loop: here is this thing happening, and does it have anything to say to me, anything I can understand?

The stress of not creating what wants creation, that held-back flood of words and images and offerings, stagnating in the body and my thoughts, creating feedback loops, looking for expression in any way it can, even if that means punching a hole in the body. Yep. I resonate with that image.

But where does the psoas come in?

I was doing some business reading when I clicked a link titled “the psoas muscle and its relationship with your soul.” Psoas is not a common word, and with my personal connection, I had to click.

Kate writes, “The psoas is much more than your ordinary muscle, it is a messenger for your central nervous system, and it’s where your fear response (fight/flight/freeze) stems from, and trauma is stored in your tissues.” She goes on to quote Liz Koch: “(the psoas) is much more than a core stabilizing muscle, it’s an organ of perception and “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.”

Man, did this resonate with me. Trauma stored in the tissue, issues of blocked creativity, an elemental desire to flourish – which in itself is just a bit complex inside grief. I can take this image with me, as I heal my way through all this.

But more than having some poetic connection with grief and creativity, what really got me was… all of this being connected to the psoas. My heart and my mind talking to me through the psoas, my finding this link today. It connects me differently to what’s happening physically and emotionally.

It feels both like a practical joke and a loving encouragement from Matt, in whatever form or format he might find himself in these days.

I don’t know. I write it out, and it doesn’t seem as magical as when it first happened. But still, I like it. I love the poetry of it, it helps me connect with what’s happening, in my body and in my heart. It links me back to love, and to Matt, and the goofy goodness we had together.

I’m going to take it as a vote of his presence.

Because seriously – who throws around the word “psoas” like it’s an every day thing?

Michele Dwyer, one of my dear writers, said: “Coincidence is for people who have not had their hearts ripped open. Synchronicity is for those of us who are healing around a universe of wonderment.

I’m going to vote for wonderment this time. I think my psoas agrees.




How about you? What little personal practical jokes have found their way to you, in your life after this death? Let us know in the comments, or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.