Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
He tells me I look as if I could use a hug
and I laugh at him and he ignores me and steps forward and puts his arms around
hugs me. I warm at the simple pleasure of human contact and for the
first time in a long time I actually feel good.
— James Frey, A Million
What is touch? I
am talking about the kind of touch that is an exchange between you and someone
else. When you are young, you touch and are touched frequently through the
routine contact of parenting, playing, sports, friendships, etc. You get pats
on the back, hugs, handshakes, you wrestle with siblings and more.
Surely you can think of times you
have enjoyed the touch of others or wanted to reach out and touch someone to
offer comfort. Touch is so important. Scientists have found that if an infant
is deprived of touch, this can lead to developmental delays as well as growth
and cognitive impairment.
Research indicates that as we age,
touch occurs less frequently and that adults and elders deprived of touch feel
disconnected, isolated, lonely, and often depressed. This may be due to living
alone, aCCEpt hugS froM faMily, friEndS, and
StrangErS hospitalization, illness, isolation or other causes.
Touching practices also vary
according to cultural mores — some groups being very much touch-oriented and
others more distant. Take this into consideration when you are offering hugs to
others so as not to offend. You can always ask for permission to hug.
Hugs are touches that signify caring and can involve partial
or full body contact. It usually depends on the relationship. A hug feels good
to the person being hugged. I remember how good it felt to be hugged (embraced
in a caring manner) by someone who was trying to comfort me during my time of
grief and loss. I felt less alone, and my spirit lightened as the grief was
shared through this contact. I felt a sigh move up through my body followed by
a muscle relaxation.
There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just
want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.
— Heart Centered Rebalancing
Yes, I still remember how a hug
from my husband felt. I miss this dearly, but still get lots of hugs from
others. I have a few hug stories that I will share with you.
I was in an orthopedic office to
get a shot in my right shoulder and bicep tendon due to joint pain. When I went
to check out with the receptionist, I started crying. Crying is a spontaneous
thing and can be triggered without notice.
She asked me, “Are you OK? Do you
need a hug?”
I was unprepared to respond, but
she seemed to know what was needed. So, she did not wait for a response, but
just came right around the barrier between us and gave me a big hug. She told
me that her husband died at 42, and she knew what I was going through. I took a
seat in the waiting room to regain my composure. Then the male physician
assistant came into the waiting room and told me I could stay in the waiting
room as long as I needed and he would wait to leave — no hurry. They were done
for the day, but my needs were important to them. These were both total
I started to wonder if anyone ever
got addicted to hugs and caring. I added “hugs” to my self-care plan.
Alittle more than a year after my husband’s death, I was on a
spiritual retreat in Sedona, AZ, a place my husband and I had been to years
before, when we traveled across the country over the span of a month. I was
very sensitive to our previous togetherness adventure and at the retreat became
tense, agitated, easily upset. At one event, I felt so overcome that my face
scrunched up and I burst into tears. I was embarrassed, turning quickly away
from the group, thankful that they were already leaving our gathering to go
One person, Mariane, saw what was
happening to me. Before I knew it, she was across the room, and she wrapped me
in a hug from my head to my toes. For an instant, I felt uncomfortable with
this hug from a stranger, but then I found myself feeling her healing energy
surround and penetrate every part of my being.
The sensation was so relaxing and peaceful. She murmured
comforting words and stroked my head and my back as I told her why I was crying
and how hard it still was for me without Fred. The hug lasted only a few
minutes, but it felt much longer. I found out that Mariane was a healer; she
had also lost her husband too, so she knew what grieving meant. We were
strangers sharing a common bond of loss. Both related well to the need for
Sometimes all you can do is hug a
friend tightly and wish that their pain could be transferred by touch to your
own emotional hard drive.
— Richelle E. Goodrich
Some believe hugs are a means of
transferring energy to another person who is dear to you. When this occurs, it
will replenish depleted energy at any time, particularly when a person is in
need. Hugging provides the feeling of caring and compassion; it is more
personal than words. It calms the mind, body, and spirit, making you feel that
you are connected and not alone. My daughter and I hugged each other often.
I received hugs
from friends. I also received hugs from some strangers in public places. (Hugs
from strangers may be perceived as threatening and stressful for some, so this
may or may not be for you.)
Hugging is considered beneficial and may significantly
improve your wellbeing. Some say that you need at least four hugs a day as the
(RDA) Recommended Daily Amount for your health and well-being. Don’t forget to hug someone
to show your caring. Do not forget to ask for a hug when you need one. Give a
HUG today to someone you love…or someone who needs a hug!
•I am surrounded by relationships that feel good.
•I am worthy of love and acceptance.
•I trust the universe to provide for my needs for
comfort and caring.
With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD
Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this