Believe in the Possibility of Healing From Grief

I recently overheard someone saying, "but some of us shall never heal," in response to a conversation about the grieving process.  What a sad perspective - yet I understand where that comes from.  On the positive side, it comes from loyalty.  It is also a recognition we will never be the same without our beloved, which is true.  Coming from a not-so-healthy perspective, it smacks a bit of martyrdom.  The notion of the long-suffering widow (or widower) is romantic to many.  Mostly the statement illustrates a misunderstanding as to what "healing" is in the context of grief.

Healing does not mean we never have an emotional response when we think of our lost beloved.  We do.  Tears may still come on special days and anniversaries, and sometimes out of nowhere at all.  Our heart, hopefully even many years after their departure, can feel as though it's going to burst with love when we remember the qualities we cherished.  None of this means we have not healed from the loss; it merely means we still love them - and nothing about that is inconsistent with healing.

In the One Light Healing Touch work I do, we define healing as "any activity that brings body, mind, and spirit more closely together as part of the journey towards wholeness."  That definition works for me, both overall and specifically in the context of grief.  If I am on a journey towards wholeness, it means I am not shutting down any aspect of me: sorrow, love, joy, anger... nothing.  I am embracing it all in each moment as it arises.  To quote Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart, "To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh."  The paradox is that we can not do this fully unless we have healed from grief, and we need to practice this level of openness in the process of healing from grief.  We need to be willing to feel all the feelings that come up in the process of grieving - the deep sadness, the anger, the loneliness, the love...and anything else.

So healing from grief is a journey.  It is a journey of acceptance of  wherever we are in any given moment.  It is also a journey of learning to be gentle with ourselves - to not beat ourselves up when we are lacking focus, to not push through when we need to take some space.  It is a journey of trusting a new life is opening up in front of us.  Even if it's not a life we would have wanted to come forth, trusting it will have its own blessings, its own challenges, its own grace, its own richness, and, yes, its own love.  Most of all, healing from grief is a journey of love....and that always makes everything possible.