Rose Kennedy made this statement. “It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Mrs, Kennedy was certainly wounded. Untimely death claimed her husband and three of her four sons. She knew much about time and healing. I believe she was right. Wounds never disappear. I chose to think of life’s scars as evidence of real living, character designs. Those without them? I know of no human who does not have at least a few.
I am often asked, “When will I stop hurting?” “When will my pain of loss lessen?” “Will I ever be truly happy, simply joyful again?”
I don’t specialize in glib answers, or ‘one-size-fits all’ for the glove of grief. But I can offer you a few insights, mainly gained from my life and the hundreds of folks who have connected with me in their loss.
The second year after your loss may well be harder than the first.
I hate to say it, especially if you are in that first year feeling that the second will be better, but many of us have found the second year to be harder. Numbness wears off, reality sets in, and we want numb back. Denial in those early stages is a bit of a protective cocoon. But it must be discarded at some time, or it will become a stifling cell.
Time alone is not a healing thing. What we do with time can be.
Regardless of the nature of our loss, we must change to accommodate that reality in our new life.
Typically that first year is marked by necessary endings, friends and even family who exit our lives, necessary address changes, financial revisions, and calendars with revised priorities and activities.
During the second year, with clearer vision, we begin to recognize that we do have choices. Page 148 in Where Do I Go From Here offers you a scale to rate your life values. That disruption from loss is an opportunity to readjust living our values not in spite of our loss, but rather because of that event.
While first and second years are marked with necessary changes often dictated by empty rooms, bank accounts, and calendars to name a few, the third year is a time when WE emerge: the couple minus their precious child, the spouse--alone, the financially challenged person or family. We, with perspective, determine how that loss is integrated into our life: motivated to help others, bitter, open about our loss or silent, that choice is ours, and ours alone.
While these are generalities of the first three years, some folks can, and do fill their life to avoid facing loss. I’ve seen reality of acknowledging loss pushed out to year six or seven. The glove of grief is as unique as the finger print inside.
Rather than outline what to expect, may I simply say what I’ve said in other writings. Don’t compare yourself to others and their time line. Neither judge them or yourself. Time is simply a tool. Remember that God is a specialist in granting grace and mercy and is the Great Physician. Healing is His specialty.