It has been said "Time heals all wounds." Time does not heal grief but it does take time for grief to heal. It is a process. It can be a long process. Each grief is as different as the griever. Each grief is as different as the relationship being grieved.
When we build relationships we build files of information in our hearts and minds each pertaining to that relationship. The longer we know someone and more time we invest the more files we have. When death ends the relationship the files still remain. As we grieve we open files and examine the contents. We remember and grieve what once was and what will never be. Files that were once labeled "Alive, Active, Loved" are eventually labeled "Deceased, Missed, Still Loved". It is something that cannot be hurried. Each file is opened in it's time. We go through all those "firsts", first birthday, first holidays, first time grocery shopping alone. It is seasonal to the year, and also to the seasons of life. We grieve each milestone as it passes.
In relationships that end almost before they begin as in miscarriage, stillborn or newborn death we cling to the small files we have. We grieve the milestones that never were, that never will never be. As each birthday passes we wonder who and what might have been.
When a relationship is rocky, rough or broken the grief process is harder. We not only grieve or regret what was, we grieve for what could have been but now will never be. Reconciliation is now something we must try to achieve alone.
Yes, grief takes time and you need to give yourself permission to grieve.
"You give yourself permission to grieve by recognizing the need for grieving. Grieving is the natural way of working through the loss of love. Grieving is not weakness or the absence of faith. Grieving is as natural as crying when you hurt, sleeping when you are tired, or sneezing when your nose itches. It is nature's way of healing a broken heart."ᵃ
Give yourself permission to grieve and then give yourself permission to heal as well. Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-8) "Do you want to be well?" If we want to heal from our grief we have to choose to be well.
"There must come a time when you assume responsibility for your own grief recovery. There is no timetable. You will come to it when you are ready. When you get there your choice is to say 'I want to get well' or to say 'I can't'. If you say 'I can't,' growth will stop and wait for your decision to get well."ᵃ
Leroy died 22 years ago. He is still gone. I still miss him. It still hurts. His death has defined me and who I am today but it no longer defines my life. It no longer consumes me, my time, my thoughts, my emotions and all my energy. I have chosen to heal. I remember and the memories are sweet. We pass those days and milestones and tears will still fall but I am healed.
Give yourself permission to grieve.
It takes time.
Give yourself permission to heal.
And wear red shoes for courage.
ᵃ Quotes from Don't Take My Grief Away by Doug Manning. (HarperSanFransisco)