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Grief and Time

“Time heals all wounds” is a phrase that most of us have heard. It is also something that many would say is not actually true. Those who have suffered the death of a close loved one know the truth~ some wounds never heal.  We just learn how to live with them.

When death first occurs the pain can be so overwhelming that we wonder how we can face another day. Yet somehow, inexplicably, we do. Eventually we find that on some days we can think about our loved one and smile. Other days the tears still flow freely. There is no way of knowing which feelings will prevail at any given moment.  

The years pass and we learn how to manage. The pain is still there, but it doesn’t catch us off-guard as often. Then suddenly, all these years later, it can all come roaring back. It either smacks us in the face like a cold blast of icy air that takes away our breath, or it creeps up on us slowly. We feel the deep ache start to spread in our body and our soul like the start of the flu, but we know the truth of what is really wrong. Of what will never truly be right again, because the person we loved is gone.

It can come without warning, without forgiveness, without a trigger. When it happens we may realize we haven’t cried in a while. That gut-wrenching, crying until we can’t breathe and almost throw up kind of cry. It has been too long since we released all that poison from our body so it has built up inside of us. It catches us by the throat, rising up, choking. It  forces us to face our pain, even if we don’t want to.

And so we cry, but feel like we have to do it alone. Very few people will understand because “it’s been so many years now!” They think we should be further along in the grief process. Time makes it better, right? 

No, time makes it different. 

Time marches us further and further away from the point where our lives intersected with the one we loved. As we watch that point fade away in the distance it heightens our grief in a way. It reminds us of how many moments we are missing with them. Time changes us, and reminds us that they aren’t here to see the person we have become. Every new milestone, every new happy moment feels like a new little death because they aren’t here to share it with us. 

Triggers can come out of nowhere, and it might be something that hadn’t bothered us before. Ten times we might be able to listen to a song that reminds us of the person we lost, but that eleventh time it hits with gut-wrenching memories and that sinking feeling of our heart breaking all over again.

So what should we do if we find ourselves facing that all-too-familiar grief again? First of all, we shouldn’t feel like we need to hide it our apologize. Each of us grieves in our own time, and in our own way. No one else has the right to judge us for how we process those feelings. What matters is that we do process them. That we let the tears some if we need to.

So we cry it out, as long as it takes. Then we wipe the tears off our soggy chin and neck, and we begin again.

And we keep that song on our playlist, even if it makes us cry. Because we never, ever want to forget. 

Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Funeral Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870

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