Adapted from Healing Through the Shadow of Loss, by Deborah Morris Coryell (Inner Traditions, 2004).
Among the most frequently repeated phrases about suffering is that “time heals all wounds” or “this too shall pass.” Time passes. It does not heal. Healing is an active process not a passive one.
If we have a cut and do nothing to clean it out or do not apply a salve, it will probably still form a scab. It may take longer and first develop an infection but the wound will most likely close and leave a scar.
When we experience woundings to our heart, soul, and mind, if feels as if we have been torn open. Sometimes we are bleeding, figuratively, from every orifice of our bodies. Eventually the bleeding stops and the wound closes, but what has closed inside? Have we healed or just closed up with our anger, fear, resentment, and doubt inside?
As we begin to explore the meaning of healing through loss, we come upon the ancient spiritual roots of the healing arts. To heal is to come back into that lost wholeness. How can you activate healing loss in your life?
Healing and curing are two very different concepts. Healing is a spiritual idea and curing is a medical one. Healing is an active process. It doesn’t happen to us; we must participate in the process of our healing. Healing happens for us. It is a gift we give to ourselves in the moment we decide to stay “open” to that which has broken us.
In pain management used for patients with chronic pain, it is taught not to tighten around the pain but to relax and allow the pain to be present. The idea is that when pain is resisted, it intensifies. When we breathe deeply and acknowledge the presence of pain, it has room to move and can dissipate more readily. Pain is there to tell us something, to warn us of possible danger. This is as true for emotional, spiritual, and mental pain as it is for physical pain. When pain speaks, we need to listen. All it takes is paying attention to our pain so that when it comes we remember to breathe and get soft. We don’t want to fight with our pain. We want to learn from it.
Time does not heal. But healing does take time. Give yourself the gift of time. To become whole means that as we open to pain, we open to the loss. We break open and, as a consequence, we get bigger and include more of life. We include what would have been “lost” to us if our hearts and minds had closed against the pain. We include what would have been lost if we had not take the time to heal. As singer/songwriter Carly Simon tells us: “There’s more room in a broken heart.”
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