SURVIVING GRIEF: HOW TO KEEP LIVING, WHEN TIME DOESN’T HEAL YOUR WOUNDS
By Brittany Barbera
In the aftermath of a crisis, nothing really fits. We feel shaken and afraid, and often, incredibly alone. As the depth of our pain threatens to consume us, we wonder if we will ever be happy again. At times, we secretly wonder if we’ll ever want to be happy again because, more than learning to flourish in our “new normal,” what we really want is our old life back—and that is no longer an option.
Despite our internal pain, life keeps on going. Our responsibilities don’t suddenly stop because we no longer have the energy to deal with them anymore. Life continues to force us into routines, and, day by day, we trek on. We force ourselves to function when we’d rather stay in bed all day. We watch as other people move on and forget what we never will. To the outside world, it seems as though we are doing alright, but deep down we are still in the throes of anguish and grief, and maybe even despair.
The healing process can feel like an arduous uphill climb, with a vague idea of where the summit is, or if it even exists. If you are upset about the slow ascent up healing hill, I feel your pain. I wish I could just snap my fingers and miraculously un-do whatever has caused your fragile heart to break. Since I can’t change your circumstances, I’m simply praying you will find comfort in knowing you are not alone. We may never meet in person, and I may never hear all the details of your story, but:
I see you.
And I see your pain.
And I care.
As you grieve, please be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough. Take baby steps and acknowledge the small victories, the things that are easy to dismiss as insignificant, because there is nothing small about them. Look for beauty in the tiniest of things: the comfort of a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, the resilience of a flower blossoming in the spring after a rough winter, making it through an entire day without tears, or genuinely laughing about something silly. When you are surrounded by darkness, even the faintest light serves as a lifeline, connecting you to a world beyond your ever-present pain, where living seems possible again. If you keep your eyes open, eventually you will find something worth noticing.
The unfortunate reality is that healing, like time, does its own thing. No matter how much you want to speed it up, it keeps a steady pace and refuses to be manipulated. Give yourself permission to experience your emotions, but be willing to work through them as well. Sometimes, the most seemingly futile things are the most fundamental part of healing. It’s not fun and it certainly is not easy, but allow grief to help you get to the other side of your agonizing loss. Though the passing of time will not heal our wounds, as many promise, it will not drown out all future joy either. So, be compassionate toward yourself and let your barely-aliveness mingle with the flames of hope until something catches, and healing begins.
Brittany Barbera is a Nashville-based, singer/songwriter and the bestselling author of Let Me Be Weak: What People in Pain Wish They Could Tell You. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, and download a free mp3 here.