Hope, Healing and Wellness
These are some important words we use often as we talk about and describe our grief and how we want to have it unfold. They describe three pretty significant ideas, concepts and goals for our journeys.
Hope: A feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen. Grounds for believing that something good may happen. To want something to happen or be the case.
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
Wellness: The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
This is a way of looking at how hope, healing and wellness might develop during our bereavement. As I thought about it while writing this, although it may seem like just a semantic exercise, it really tied a lot of what I’d experienced on my own journey together for me. I thought it would be a helpful (and hopeful) way to look at how these concepts may unfold as you travel through your own journeys.
A continuum of grief to wellness:
When I was looking through what I had written in my journal about my early support group experiences, I realized that when I wrote about my grief journey, it was mostly about me telling my story to other people in the group and living it in my head. It was about what I was feeling and it was a lot about my pain and sadness.
When I wrote about my healing journey, it was often about what I was learning about grief at the meetings and what I was hearing from the other people in the group about things that they had learned and were talking about. Hearing their stories of things that they had done or experienced was giving me hope and ideas that were helping me to heal as well. As with most of us, it helped me to realize I wasn’t the only one having those thoughts and feelings.
As I thought about it more, I started to see that although I used the terms synonymously, my grief journey and my healing journey had actually been different things and I had really been experiencing more than one “journey” at a time. And, although they were happening at the same time, it was also more complex, it seemed to be more of a movement through time of one journey and what it contained overlapping others and what they contained.
So this is how those journeys appear to me after thinking about it for a while.
When I first become bereaved, my grief journey began. I started moving through my grief and during that time, as it is for most of us, grief was pretty much in control of my life.
At some point, and it’s different for each of us, I started to gradually take control of my life. This actively began my healing journey. The two journeys, grief and healing, overlapped.
Over time, my grief journey began to slowly decline and my healing journey began to slowly increase, and the healing gradually overtook and began to replace the grief as the dominant part of my life. My grief journey still continued, but my healing journey now began to become the major part of my life, and the grief journey became submerged “behind it”.
So, grief and actively grieving became much less a part of my daily life and healing became much more of what I was and what I did. This transition continued as I begin to find and create the next part of my life.
Acceptanceof all that had happened in my life was a major part of beginning to find wellness, a place where I could coexist with my grief and healing as I began to move forward in my life.
At some point, as my healing turned into wellness, I also moved more strongly towards life and living. There may always be an element of grief in my life (?) but it has become less and less powerful with time. There may always be an element of healing as well since there are always new things to learn. But for now, wellness has taken over in my life.
Visually, it might look something like this:
Grief becomes less over time……………………………………………………………………………..
Healing grows over time………………………………………….…………………………..
Wellness develops as healing grows stronger………..…………………………..
A final thing to remember here for all of us if we experience any of these changes, is that there is no time table to it! We find each change as and when we find it and our journeys unfold as they unfold. When we get there is when we get there! While the parts of the continuum may be similar for everyone, the details of your journey will almost always be different from the details of anyone else’s journey as well.