When I meet a recent widow and see her deep emotional and spiritual wounds I want to immediately ease her pain.
But I’ve learned that my role is not to fix the wounds caused by grief, but to support her in a way that promotes and nurtures healing from within.
Some emotional wounds, like physical wounds, need to heal with time. Initially the wound is very inflamed but as months and years go by new growth heals over the wound.
Grief is a deep wound that affects a person’s total being, the emotional, spiritual, social and physical being. While in pain we may ask “why” and we may even be shocked at the depth of our anger.
Like a physical wound, grief can be raw, inflamed and painful. Grieving people require rest to support the healing process. They are often overwhelmed and lost with low energy and fatigue.
Grief wounds can be made more painful by comments made by others. According to one study, a person can expect to hear approximately 121 phrases in the three days following a death, of which only 19 are perceived as helpful by grievers.
Grief wounds may be invincible to others but they are just as real and painful as a physical wound. They should not be discounted as grief can be a contributing factor to the high death rate of a widow/widower during the year following a spouse’s death.
We live in a society where we often lack compassion or understanding of emotional scars. Comments such as “It’s been two years, when will you move on” do not honour the person’s experience of grief.
A person may be doing just fine, and all of a sudden be “bumped” by a memory, an anniversary, or by another loss and the pain raises up to overtake them. It is then that the phrase, “grief never ends” becomes very real.
Grief wounds cannot “be fixed”, “solved”, or “healed” by others. Our role is to support, nurture and educate so that they can heal from within.