“Heal.” We say the word as if it is a final destination, as if someone can achieve the finish line when they have accomplished the term. We say it like one day healing is done, and we move forward, forgetting about what was broken.
Let me set this straight: you CAN heal. You can heal a broken bone, a sprained ankle, a cut or abrasion. But there is one thing that never heals, as is in done, completed, back to its original state. You can never fully heal a broken heart.
I have had many people tell me in my almost six year adventure of grief, with great intention, nonetheless, “Time will heal. It will get better.”
And with the most sincere, warm smile I must proudly say, “No, it most certainly does not.”
I remember the first few months after my husband died, I literally could not catch my breath when I thought that my broken heart might feel better, lighter, less painful. Doesn’t it sound crazy? I WANTED it to hurt as bad as it did in those freshest, rawest days of my husband dying. I have attempted to articulate that crazy desire, and the closest I can come to is this: I was petrified that if it hurt less, I would love him less. I was scared to death that if it hurt less, I would lose memories, lose the sound of his voice, lose the way his love felt. If I hurt less, did that take away from what we had and what we still share?
The answer is NO. Does it hurt less? Yes, I mean, maybe. You learn to live with the pain. You become a master of reigning in the tears, when to say their name, how to navigate the moments that will make you hurt more, how to make others feel less uncomfortable when you become emotional. The traumatic sharp, stabbing pain in your chest that makes you unable to breathe–those are few and far between this far out. The nights I spend sleepless–they are less. The nights I cannot stop crying, when the sobs attack my breathing, they are less too. But they are still there. Those moments of sadness, pain, fear they still exist. Pain still exists. Healing is not done.
I have reflected on this “time will heal” thing quite some time, most recently when one of my dearest friends text me that her husband was killed in a car accident. I begged God that it wasn’t true. I have attempted to find the words and actions to help, just like others did when Joe passed from my life. And oddly, the comforting words I had to offer, were this: “It doesn’t get better. Time doesn’t heal. Time doesn’t take away the love, the emotion, the devotion and dedication you have to him. Time doesn’t heal.”
Healing is never done for a broken heart. Unless, of course, you are a Christian, and the day we meet God at the Golden Gates in Heaven, and our hearts are healed completely. On Earth? Healing is never done. It is a continual process that we ebb and flow through. Right when I think that I am ‘there’–that place, that I am whole again, life, this world, has a way of bringing me right back to Day 1. I feel that raw, salt-in-the-wound, painful cries my heart screamed out for months. And oddly, I have to tell you: I am so thankful. I am thankful for the pain that you only know from a broken heart. It allows me to be a better human, it allows me to remember where I was and how far I have come. It allows me to remember our pain is not in vain. Time doesn’t heal. Time allows us to know what is truly important in life.
Wherever you are in your healing, keep healing. For some of us, we have to go back and visit those freshest, rawest days of pain. And we still have to get out to find the healing of today. We have to allow others grief to shape our own. We have to use your own experiences to help others through their new journeys of grief. We have to keep healing; not as in complete or finish, just as in continual, ongoing, soul-searching healing. Wherever you are today, just keep healing. And I pray you keep going in grief. It’s so worth it.
Kristina Smith is a widow, mother, Special Education Administrator, Colorectal Cancer National Advocate, Blogger and Amazon Best-Selling Author of “What I Wasn’t Expecting, When I Was Expecting: A Grieving Widow’s Memoir”
You can purchase your personal copy of Smith’s memoir HERE.