Quite a few people have said to me that “time heals”. They were being kind, trying to say something helpful. I actually think it’s a myth, tho.
What does happen over time is that memory of the loved and lost begins to fade and so the daily experience of pain at the loss reduces. You begin to form new life patterns so the reminders of the difference gradually diminish. This isn’t healing the wound, though. It is simply the wounding process winding down. The knife gradually being withdrawn as it carves on.
Healing is what happens to the wound. Perhaps not a bad metaphor is scar tissue gradually forming, closing up, joining together and finally healing over in some way. The body does it itself with physical wounds. With emotional ones, we have more choice over it.
When Jane died, I could have tried to avoid it. Overwork, drink, distraction, thinking about other women. Actually, I did most of those things at different times. But I also let the grief take me, a lot. I let myself fall into it and be overwhelmed.
I wrote about this before (also in the Pit and the Process) but I think it deserves repetition. It is the unknown, of course, so everyone’s experience will be different. For me, though, I have learned that the way to heal this kind of wound is to go into it. Let myself be in the most painful place. Experience the depth of it so that the healing begins from the very deepest part of the wound.
That is not all, though because it is scary in there. It feels like it could be fatal. What made it not was that I stayed connected with people. I talked about it a lot with friends and family. Writing about it here, and receiving comments and emails, I felt very connected to you people. I also, mostly stayed connected with myself. I reflected quietly by myself and I walked around the house calling for Jane. I knew what I was feeling and that I hated it but that it somehow had to be done, or “been”.
And there were moments when I felt disconnected with others and disconnected with myself. They were the most scary. To my surprise, though they weren’t quite unbearably scary. Perhaps because I’d been there before, perhaps because of my heart being a little more open to love, I always knew, heard a quiet voice, perhaps of a little bird somewhere in the dark saying “you will survive this”.
Feel and connect. Feel and connect.