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Hope: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Grounds for believing that something good may happen. To want something to happen or be the case. Intend if possible to do something.

Healing: The process of becoming sound or healthy again. To alleviate a person’s distress or anguish. To correct or put right an undesirable situation. To restore a person to spiritual wellness

We are looking for healing not to be healed. Our hope is that we will be!

Healing implies an ongoing process, a change through time where an unwell aspect of our lives moves toward wellness. The word healed implies a completion of the process. I believe that our hope all along the way is that we will find healing of some sort and find our way out of the intensity of our grief to a place of peace.

During my own grief journey and speaking with others about their journeys, it has become clear that we are always in the process, that it is ongoing and in some way, the healing is always progressing, not necessarily in a linear way but we are always involved in the process in some way. Sometimes it is clear and obvious that we are healing, that we are making strides towards wellness and other times, it seems we are moving backwards, not healing at all, getting less well and sometimes, we might even be stagnating, not moving much at all. 

All these directions are possible, maybe even probable and they all can change and overtake us in a very short time. They can change almost daily early in our grieving and sometimes the plateaus, the times we don’t seem to be progressing at all can last for a very long time. The regressions can also come and go at their own rate as our learning and growing move in their own ways.

But all of these things represent change. The aren’t a destination, they are a movement towards a different state of being. We may not ever reach that end place, we may never be healed but we may learn, we may grow, we may reach a new equilibrium and find a peaceful place to live within ourselves. But do we ever fully heal? That’s a “TBA” we have to first take the journey to find out.

What is healing in this sense. What are we trying to accomplish? 

I believe what we are looking for is a place we can reach and move towards that allows us to hold the memories of our lives with our spouses or partners in a place that becomes less painful as time goes by, that honors them and the love and lives we shared with them. I think healing includes finding an equilibrium between our past lives with our loved ones and our new life without them. I personally feel that as time goes by I am living more in the present and dwelling less on the past, allowing life to take over and grief to recede and I am becoming more functional and comfortable in the new life I have been creating. 

How long does it take?

It takes as long as it takes! As I’ve written before, there is no time table or calendar. Grief and healing progress at their own pace, differently for each of us. Healing and grief appear to be fairly non-linear, sometimes we go forward and sometimes not but we are always changing in some way even when it isn’t obvious. Sometimes time is the enemy, our grief seems eternal and sometimes time is our friend, the waves of grief become less high and less frequent as time passes. The one thing that may be constant is that our grief does indeed change through time and most times, it becomes less severe, we learn and grow and move forward through time, each in our own way and at our own rate, towards healing and functional living again. We can honor our loved ones by being strong enough to accommodate these changes as they guide us towards hope and healing.

The quote from Andi on the image has always been my “friend” especially when I struggle to find my way. She wrote it as a reminder to herself and others during her own struggles on her cancer journey.