March 17, 2011

Time heals all wounds...

After Chance died, people would often recite the phrase time heals all wounds - as though I was supposed to glean comfort or reassurance from those words, from that cliche. 

I can still recall the unintentional sound of presumption in their voices, and the way those words felt like a deep and violent betrayal. As if anything could heal the vicious wound that had replaced the shape of my heart. 

I used to be afraid of time, afraid that it would pull us both in opposite directions; that it would carry him further away. But instead, his absence was slowly dissolved into the essence of my being, until one day, I woke to find that it was all I had ever known. 

In the beginning, some people would often go out of their way to avoid me. Others used cliches or small talk as a way to avoid potentially awkward conversations - perhaps because my own pain made them feel uncomfortable or inadequate. 

When cornered, many would talk frenetically about the weather or their children- as though the mere slip of a tongue might cause me to remember what I might have otherwise forgotten.  

We teach the grieving to carry their wounds on the inside, where the horror is less visible. 

We teach our children to be afraid of death and we recoil from the experience as though death itself is either sacrosanct or contagious. 

In cultures such as this one, where death has no dialogue, no ritual or right of passage, the bereaved are often left to mourn and surmount their grief in private.  

And although nothing can be said or unsaid, to absorb or to protect against the pain of loss, the mere offering of recognition, of acknowledgement or condolence is in itself a customary form of validation and respect. 

I never imagined that grief would be such an isolating journey. 

Nobody prepares you for the sense of solitude or the veil of secrecy, or the way you are taught to disguise your grief and wear the mask of normalcy.  

I can remember trying to make myself invisible, and when that failed,  just staving off the outside world from the safety of my cocoon. Hiding away seemed somehow easier and less exhausting than trying to pretend that I was improving. 

What people don't realise is that grief itself becomes a kind of comfort or reassurance - the way people are supposed to. It is also the only tangible thing that still connects you to what you have lost

I don't think we ever truly get over the death of someone we love. We may become familiar with the experience -  even feel comfortable in its embrace - but that is not nearly the same thing as letting go or finding closure. 

It has now been three years since Chance disappeared without warning from my life, and the only thing that I have reconciled is the shock of finding out that he was gone.

I remember feeling this strange sense of certainty just hours after he died, that life would never be the same, that I would never be the same, that losing him had changed me forever. 

In a strange way, I still feel the same, only now I understand that the experience of his death and of my grief, have become a part of who I am. 

But it is not just his death that has changed me. I get a sense of him in the choices I make, and the friends I keep, and in the way I have conducted myself ever since he went away. 

I am a better person today because of the experience of loving him and of having been loved by him in return. 

These days I do not feel mournful when I think about Chance and I still think about him countless times each day. I made a conscious choice to make the most of my life and a decision that his death would not define either one of us. 

Nowadays, thoughts of Chance seem to bring me peace and sudden comfort, and the strange and bewildering realisation that perhaps I have slipped into the stage of acceptance, without any real awareness that time had been moving me forward... 

Perhaps that is what they mean when they say that time heals all wounds... 

That in time, the wound becomes another thing that we are able to get use to - another thing that we were able to survive.  


Anonymous said...

Hi, Misha, just stopped by to say hi. Some wounds leave long, thick scars. <3

Misha Sim said...

Thanks Sweepy....That they do. x

Body of Words said...

Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me of when my best friend died. People would tell me that time would heal the wound or that this would only make me stronger. And I always wondered, "Stronger for what? I don't WANT this to get worse than it is." They are right, and they are wrong. Right because time does lessen pain and increase wisdom, wrong because most of them have not lived the experience themselves and therefor do not offer comfort. But I hope you feel all the love and compassion you need to feel, and I hope that wisdom eventually replaces sorrow.