Why Bother to Take Time to Heal?
I had a biking accident once. My injuries included a few bruises, some road rash, strained muscles and a concussion. My wounds were not life threatening, but they did require a visit to the hospital followed by a day or two on the couch to rest and recover. When I felt little to no pain, I could tell that my body had recovered enough to get up and move around, albeit slowly. After a few more days, I’d recovered enough to mount my rode bike and ride once again.
But how do we know when we have recovered from the unseen wound called grief?
It’s a Personal Process
Unlike a skin abrasion, we cannot peel off a bandage to note the closed and healed wound from our loss. Grief is an interior work, unseen and different for everyone.
First of all, no two individuals or circumstances are identical. I was thirteen when my father ended his life, but I had six other siblings ranging in age from ten to twenty-three. Though we were all in the same family, and shared the same tragedy, none of us were at the same stage of development. We were not all the same gender, nor had identical personalities. Therefore, our grief work was uniquely our own.
Secondly, not everyone admits their sorrow and without acceptance of grief, there is no way to work through it. Though my mother was an adult with more life experiences than the rest of us, she denied herself along with her children, the liberty to speak about the tragedy. To her, suicide was a moot topic. But remaining silent did not remove her sorrow. It only intensified it.
Respecting the fact that not everyone begins to work through their sorrow at the same time or in the same manner, reinforces our ability to extend empathy to others who experience a death by suicide.
My own grief work was delayed by about ten years simply because I lacked the language, knowledge and any guidance through the unknown territory of grieving a loss by suicide. I wandered in the land of desolation and loneliness long enough to understand its depths, darkness and its dead ends before finding a pathway I believed led to healing.
Can I say I’ve completed my grief work? I believe so. The pain that once encased my wounded heart has disappeared. Also, I can speak about my loss without the fight or flight neurons in my brain firing off their defensive warnings. Though I still have memory of the tragedy, it no longer incapacitates me like it once did.
Why bother to take time to heal? There is no timeline or deadline for grief. It has its own rhythm as well as its own pace. Let it have its way with you and when it is finished, you will know.