A Mother’s Touch – Loss and The Feminine Archetype in Massage

On April 15th my wife and I said goodbye to our Golden Retriever of 13 years who has been thankfully suffering for not too long with cancer. Her name was Phoebe.  She was the only dog I’ve had as an adult.  I’m sure many of you can imagine the pain we are in at her loss.  Not more than an hour later we received the news re the tragedies at the Boston Marathon.  These in turn brought up feelings related to my mother’s passing many years ago at the age of 47.

All this and Mothers’ Day brought up many feelings and thoughts about loss.  The absence of the loving touch of our parents, our beloved animals, the senseless destruction of the triumph that is the marathon – these and other losses leave us challenged to deal with the hurting places in our lives.

I think maybe all massage and bodywork is about loss. Loss of comfort, of physical ease, of peace of mind, of spiritual connection. The restorative quality of touch “heals over the scarred place, makes a road” (Naomi Nye). Perhaps it is the comfort of touch that gives it its most tremendous power.

The touch of mind, the moving back and forth with feelings, the literal experience of pain at many-sided loss has left me, has left all of us, with a raw wound that will take time to heal. Here are some important lines from a poem about loss recently read at friend’s memorial –

Grief is a walk over a bridge
Back and forth
Forth, to where the other has gone
And back to where one was with her.

One must wander through the land of the Past
Back and forth
Until the walk over that bridge
Leads to a new path.


We need the comfort that touch can bring.  As the hand of the mother gently rubs back and forth across hurt places, we find a new path.  The touch of comfort takes us along this path that caring women and men have been pointing out to us since time immemorial – the path of love.