The construct of time in the healing process
Time does not "heal all wounds" but it is the passage of time that allows us to heal
Nine years ago today, I sat by my husband Dan’s hospital bed, with one hand on his heart and the other on his forehead, as he peacefully stopped breathing.
I told him to go to the light. He did. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did.
That 16th of January kicked off a terrible year, one beyond anything I could have ever imagined. People used to say about my loss, “I can’t imagine.” I would think, no, they truly can’t.
I worried so much about Dan dying, and after he did, I realized two things: one, I had good reason to worry because the aftermath was far worse than what I had worried about; two, I wish I hadn’t spent that much of our precious time together worrying.
I did not think I would survive that year. I definitely did not think I would survive beyond that year.
I can’t help but laugh out loud, incredulous, because nine years later here I am. You know what? It’s been really hard. But it’s also been really great. I can’t help but marvel at all the ways in which my life has unexpectedly progressed.
The pain over Dan’s death has never left me, although slowly but surely over the years it has eased its grip. Despite that, this time of year starting with the holidays and Dan’s January 1st birthday and of course, January 16th, has felt very heavy to me.
This year, the energy is as light as it has ever been.
It is easy to forget that our bodies are set up to heal. It can be absolutely impossible to remember when the pain and trauma are so all-encompassing. But this is the natural process in our bodies. As we sit, injured, wounded, traumatized, our mind, bodies and spirits are working behind the scenes to ensure that we will improve, recover and be able to move forward again in some capacity.
We are set up to survive at all costs. Our bodies want to heal!
Notice I don’t say that we will regain full capacity. Often, we do. But I am realizing more and more, often we don’t escape unscathed, depending on the depth and nature of harm we experience. Generally, however, we eventually regain a level of physical/mental/spiritual equilibrium that allows us to function “normally” again.
What we humans are capable of is quite amazing.
I don’t know how I made it these nine years but here I am (shoutout to my grief counselor who I believe made all the difference early on.) I am grateful to be here.
Time is something, isn’t it? It passes. That is what it does best. It passes, regardless, as we’re carried forward with it.
What I have said to myself and others over the years, trying to make sense of it, is that time allows us to get far enough away from what caused the pain for the pain to become manageable. Time does not heal “all” wounds or even necessarily heal a wound.
I will always be wounded by Dan’s death. I am at peace with that.
Each of us experiences painful emotions in different ways and time frames and it usually feels very much out of our control. It makes no sense and provides no consolation when we’re in it. As humans, we want nothing more than for our unbearable pain or sadness or grief to end.
But for me, nine years later, it now makes all the sense in the world.
There was no other way.
I understand that I needed the passage of time to allow space for me to heal. I understand that time passing is the only way we as humans can heal. I understand that I could not have reached this point after a year or two (or five).
It is only now that my own grief process has allowed this new realization and a different experience for me at this loaded time of year.
In the Star Wars canon, the Mandalorians say to each other:
This is the way.
I’m no Mandalorian but I agree:
This is the way.
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Wow...has it really been nine years?! Vivid memories of Dan, and you and Dan, make that hard to believe. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt, warm and personal thoughts about this difficult journey, where silver linings were to be found...eventually. Like signs from heaven, (recall hawk in birdbath right before Seahawks kickoff, when they won the Super Bowl, and we were all talking about how we wished Dan and Brian Griffin were with us!), silver linings are there to behold....filled with strength and hope and peace. Sending you much love, Pritam🙏🏻❤️Bethamus