One of those myths we keep on hearing about Grief is that time is supposed to heal all wounds.
My own take on this is that the intensity of the chock, grief and pain after a significant loss does indeed subside over time. However, you only need to hear that certain song, quote or word; see that certain church, hospital, picture; celebrate the first Christmas without, anniversary without, birthday without… Or you start to imagine how life would have turned out had they still been in your life (you get the picture right?). All of a sudden the memory and the physical discomfort associated with it starts to flare up like a bad nightmare.
Before you know it you are fully re-living the stress, sadness, chock and heartbreak as if it was happening right this very second. It’s happened to me on several occasions, and it feels like I was transported back in time and put back in that very instant. And I have caught myself thinking, “but time is supposed to heal all wounds, so why am I still so overwhelmed, sad and stuck? What a load of BS!”
“The mistaken idea that after enough time passes something will magically change to make us whole again is preposterous. If we were dealing with any other human pain, no one would say – Just give it time.” from the Grief Recovery Handbook
How many of you are still experiencing pain caused by a death, separation, pet loss, move or loss of faith that might have happened 20 years ago?
I often meet people that are dealing with “old” pain and grief dating back as far as childhood, and as soon as we start talking about it they are immediately experiencing the event with the same intensity as if it was indeed happening RIGHT NOW. Unless you are given the right tools and action steps (might it be thought therapy, coaching or any other technique), the old pain will still be stored in your memory and sometimes even in a body part, causing pain and discomfort.
I had pain in my right shoulder for many years after we lost our daughter. I just didn’t get why the pain was there until I got help to connect the dots, that my right shoulder was still carrying her. As her muscles were so weak, she was CONSTANTLY hanging on my right shoulder. Not until I realised that and dealt with the pain of losing her did the pain go away!
So here are 5 things that you could do to ease the immediate pain:
1. Think about a loss that is still very painful.
2. Write down exactly how you feel about it, and if there is a physical pain that goes with that feeling.
3. Start writing down what is still bothering you about the situation.
4. Put all of your thoughts, apologies, forgiveness and other emotional statements you would like to tell this person in to a letter.
5. Imagine this person, or take out a photo and read the letter out loud adressed to this person. End with a clear GOODBYE.
I would still recommend to get in touch with a Grief Specialist or therapist if the pain is too great to face on your own.
You might also find this video helpful: