Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On Healing Grief

"What is healing grief anyway?  I mean what does that really mean?  Do you really think you get over the death of your child." My new bereaved mom friend asked me as we sat together in the coffee shop on a bright Saturday afternoon.

The answer: No. She was right.  I agreed with her, you don't and won't ever get over the death of your child.  You will never be cured of your new companion grief.  Grief walks with you forever now, you're going to need to learn to accept that if you want to get out of bed each morning.

However, I believe you can heal the open wounds this tragic loss has left behind.  It all depends on how you view healing versus curing. According to Webster, (you know the dictionary) healing and curing are essentially the same.  Synonyms for "restoring to wholeness or health." But I believe healing to be more of an ongoing practice.  A practice of love, and as Richard Moss writes in Healers on Healing, "True healing means drawing a circle of our being larger and becoming more inclusive, more capable of loving." Believing that healing is for all humankind, no matter if you are in a state of brokenness or not.   

Curing to me is different.  It is eradicating or bringing one back to their state of being before illness or emotional loss.  Unfortunately, we are not as lucky as Lazarus who was brought back from the dead, and our children will not be reunited with us in this life.  Honestly, that is really the only way to cure our grief.

But to heal it, to learn to live a "new normal" with grace and a semblance of wholeness as a changed and new person is possible. When one's wounds heal from a skinned knee, the body creates a scar that in some cases is forever present. We all have that one scar from childhood that you can still silently rub your fingers over and remember the trauma of the injury.  Mine is a tiny grove and divot on my right pinky. Where when I was two years old the tip of my little finger was accidentally chopped off in the back of a door hinge by the babysitter's son while playing a game.  Luckily, to my mother's relief, it hung by a thread and was sewn back on with two small stitches that has created and now left behind the thin white line, only visible to my eyes and felt by my fingertips. Similar is my scar of losing Nora, only visible at times to my eyes alone and only felt by the fingertips of my heart when others do not see the gaping scar I now walk with.  

After scars such as these, our body never returns to the exact same of what it once was, but heals what it has to work with and learns how to function in its new form. The same is true for our souls.

That is what healing grief is.  Learning how to function in our body and soul's new form, no matter how scared, broken, and bruised. Healing grief from child loss is learning how to let light and love in to live amongst the shadows of sadness that lurk within our punctured hearts.

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