Pain is inevitable: does time heal all wounds?
“From every wound there is a scar. And each scar tells a story. A story that says, “I have survived.” (Bro. Craig Scott)
“Time heals all wounds.” If you are a mourner, you have undoubtedly heard this cliche more than once. As a grieving parent, I can attest to the fact that some wounds never fully heal. They leave a scar, a forever reminder of the pain once experienced. But during the time the scar forms, we are given many opportunities to avoid prolonged suffering.
After the death of our son at the age of 21, my husband and I felt raw and undeniable grief. Like others, we chose to suffer because it seemed to place some value on the incredible grief we felt. Pain and suffering cannot be hidden, and the pain that comes from grief sometimes hurts much more and more than expected.
It’s simple to get sucked into one’s pain, and even get caught up in the aftermath of the event that caused us pain. We are humans. We want others to know that we hurt ourselves. And sometimes we decide not to “let go”. We become obsessed with the injustice of life and attract others to our misery. That negative energy consumes and weakens us physically, mentally, and spiritually, but we choose it anyway. Soon friends and family drift away because our confused state becomes overwhelming for them. They feel powerless to comfort us. They admit that no matter what they do, we are unreachable. They propose that “time” could heal the rotting wounds in us.
Personally, I believe that time does not heal all wounds. Time simply passes by us. Time becomes a year, five years, ten years, and more. Time passes and our life continues day after day. Pain quickly turns to suffering when we allow our loss to rule our lives. Suffering is prolonged pain that we choose rather than heal and reinvest in life again. We become oblivious to the measurement of time.
However, what time gives us is distance from the initial pain. This allows us to process our thoughts and offers us an option to heal. We begin to realize that existing in a life with nothing less than is totally exhausting. We observe others living life around us; and secretly we want to be like them.
What I know to be true is that intense pain changes, if we are willing to allow ourselves to find our place in the world that still exists. Time softens the harsh feelings of those wounds, like an incision after surgery. With proper care, the incision begins to heal. The scar loses its sensitivity and, through the natural healing process, the painful memory is softened.
The signs of reinvesting in life
Although the grieving process is complex, we can find simple signs that we instinctively want to heal from our pain. These signs simply say, “It’s time to let go and move on.” Some of the signs we experienced included these: We began to tell the stories of Chad’s life, often with a laugh and a smile. We began to attend social and family functions recognizing the benefit of having supportive people to help us face a changed world. We connected with God in new ways that were personal and fulfilling, and we let go of our anger. We looked for ways to make sure Chad’s life mattered.
A very positive sign of reinvesting in life is the search for meaning. This is a process of discovery that makes one wonder, “What is the purpose of my life? What is my life plan? Does God still take care of me?” We search and find reasons to be happy again. It was comforting to wake up in the morning and find that her first thoughts weren’t about Chad or the misery of pain. This gave us new energy to start a day with new possibilities. We appreciate the little miracles of every day.
Growing compassion and understanding are key signs that wounds are healing. We instinctively became more compassionate to all kinds of losses and struggles that others were dealing with. Pain is humbling and can open your heart to limitless opportunities to share, serve, and walk a new path, far different than you ever imagined.
This is not the time to heal wounds. It is what we do with our pain and with our lives as a result of the trauma or loss that caused us great pain. When we observe others who have “overcome” obstacles in life, we mentally compare our situation with theirs. We can look at them and wonder. “I can’t imagine how they did it. What’s their secret?” When we act on these instincts, we replace pain and suffering with HOPE.
Who am i now
We become proponents of change, because we recognize that to live fully we must honor the obstacles we have overcome. We live in a world of change. Think back to a generation or two and remember all the changes that have occurred in technology, lifestyles, clothing, women’s rights, and disease management. Be amazed at how adversity creates change and change creates a better existence.
I feel blessed to have overcome severe pain and have learned to accept the results. I feel blessed to be able to look back and remember, horrible as it was, and recognize that the memories of that pain are temporary. I can quickly return to the current world of the living. I will never forget Chad, who was such a wonderful part of our lives. His story still reinforces the great lessons of human nature, humility, sacrifice, and endless love.
There is no doubt that I am not the same person I was before Chad’s death. On the outside, I have definitely aged. But inside, that’s where I am really different. I learned that life’s surprises make me as vulnerable to challenges as anyone else. I have replaced “forgotten dreams” with “maybe moments.” I’ve put my regrets behind me (“I wish I had, I could have done it”) and have focused only on the sanctity of happy memories. Loving family and friends have shared my pain; I heard my story; and it helped me honor the past.
Inside, I understand the word “friend” and I am fortunate to have created many new ones. I value my commitments and have learned to say “No”. Adjust my priorities, sometimes after tense moments of fighting the inner ego that says “you have to do it” or “you have to do it”. I am more true to myself. In the need to create continuity in life, I try to build bridges where there were many gaps before. Although it seems that I am often not prepared for a single event, I am more prepared for the greatest event of all.
I am still the mother who lost a child. I still feel sad dreaming dreams that will never come true, but I keep going. Time has healed the deepest wounds, but there will always remain a shadow of the scars. They are battle scars; medals of honor. They signify courage, wisdom and strength. They create unlimited Hope stories. They are marks in time, lessons in love, and I wear them with pride. They pay tribute to this anonymous quote; “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I chose to heal the pain and replace the suffering with hope.