Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time Doesn't Heal All Things

In recent years there has been a greater acknowledgment of the myth of getting over one's grief. This seems due to the flurry of blogs and memoirs about grief. There also seem to be more fiction books tackling the subject as well.

I wish I'd known this when I first became widowed. At that time I was subjected to the platitude
of time healing all things. I really believed this too. Now I would have the guts to challenge the non-widowed person spouting this off to me with a reply of "How do you know this? What is your personal experience of this?" But back then I took it on with hope and naivety.

Since I actually believed this reasoning, I tried to rush my first year of widowhood vainly thinking that once all those first anniversaries had passed, so would my grief. What I found, however, was that for me the second year was worse because I realized with so much more intensity what I had really lost - that first year kind of passed by in a blurry, hazy fog. So it would have been far better for me if someone had given me the more sound advice of how grief doesn't just magically disappear but that the day-to-day intensity of it does eventually lessen.

I wanted to share this passage from Belva Plain's novel "Crossroads," published in 2008. I think it is a good example of how our perception of grief is becoming more realistic and healthy. Wish I had had the wise wisdom of Belva's words instead of the unrealistic platitudes. In the book, the main character has suffered a miscarriage.

"Gwen had learned that those who said time heals everything were wrong. There are certain hurts that never go away, like the one she'd sustained when she learned that Cassie had been lying to her about her birth parents. That ache was permanent...

But the loss of a baby was different. That pain would never go away, either...but you finally did figure out how to absorb it. It became a part of what you were and it changed who you were. At first you were convinced that you'd never be happy again, that the gray fog that enveloped you would always be there, then one morning you woke up and it was autumn, and the trees in the little park at the end of your street were spreading the seasonal gold and orange carpet on the ground. And you noticed in a deeper and more satisfying way the beauty of the fresh flowers your husband now brought home every knew that you'd turned a corner. The sorrow for your dream of a child was in your heart, in the very blood that pumped through it, but somehow that released you to get on with your life."

Beautiful and real words.


  1. I agree. 4 years ago my husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly ,in another city, and I was'nt with him. It takes along time to absorb the sudden death of you husband and in many ways I feel worse now than I did at the beginning of this journey but through this I've come to realise that many people thing I've got over it because no one mentions it now. I just could not contemplate another relationship because basically I just can't. Essentially I would not want second best. Life has not stopped dead, I have to keep functioning and facing up to my responsabilities while learning to live with this bloody awful situation that really no one engages with because essentially after a time many really do not care!! Love M

  2. Anonymous - It is hard to still be in the grip of loss and have close ones never mention our spouses. It is the same for me and oftentimes, I am very sad/upset, especially at the holidays when there is no remembrance of my late husband. I like what you say about life going on and still having to face responsibilities and learn to live a whole new unexpected life. It is overwhelming imagining when one really stops to consider this.