Walking Wounded-No Pain No Gain

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

One by one they approached me.  Former families of patients whom I loved and treasured dearly, each one of them with tears in their eyes, embraced me and together we shared the pain of loss.  It was a night focused on “remembering and honoring” our loved ones, and as I looked around the square and saw the countless numbers of luminaries, my heart filled with both sadness and joy.  Sadness because there were so many, and joy because each candle lit represented a life that was cherished and loved.  For a moment, it even appeared as if the sky had flipped and that the stars were now adorning the ground we walked upon.

And then there was the camaraderie, the feeling validation in the eyes of everyone present that this “coming together” represented a unique evening that formed a bond between us all.  The unbearable and total heartbreak of loss and losing family members and friends was evident upon the faces of many and hands were held and hearts touched as the memories were shared.  What was extremely impactful and evident was that no matter how much time had passed, at least on this night, the pain remained raw and open.  Wounds were visible and conversations were held that discussed the progress or the “falling backwards” of grief journeys, and everyone could remember times in which they felt that way or experienced something similar.

Perhaps the most thing about sharing feelings is the recognition that you are not alone.  All around me, people were laughing, crying, hugging and discussing their highs and lows- and even though the pain was evident, you could feel the healing envelop the crowd around every corner.  You see, that’s the thing about a shared journey- every time we talk about it, or share a memory; every time we express a feeling or pose a question; and every time we look into one another’s eyes and know immediately that the loss is understood and felt by others, we grow.  Healing takes on many forms and there are certainly numerous levels of “feeling better”, but it arrives at different times for every individual.  So, you can have hundreds of people at an event, all grieving the loss of someone they miss terribly, and yet some are obviously much further along in their healing process while others are still struggling and trying to come to terms with the loss.

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The thing is all of the above is perfectly normal.  Just like a flower that blooms, we arrive at our transitioning in our own time.  Grief is not a competition or something we need to compare with others.  Instead, it is something we must live and it is in that living that we experience the healing.  No pain no gain, right?  And as painful as it is, when we start to see progression, we become encouraged that things are moving in the right direction.  When we become encouraged, we tend to work harder and believe me, there is nothing more difficult than working through the pain and the challenging work of grieving.  Keep that in mind when you feel like giving up or giving in to the pain and remember that time will lessen the intensity of the hurt, but it will never erase the memories.