The Paradox of Healing

andrews wellThe Paradox of Healing is that it is both holding on and letting go.
We hold on to memories, and we let them go.
We hold on to feelings, and we let them go.
We hold on to an old way of being because the self we still are resides there,
And we let go to a new way of being, so the self can live on.
     Poem by Molly Fumia (through our dear friend Emily)

I read this poem and it touches me so deeply – it is so meaningful. We all want to and need to heal. We all want to keep moving forward with our lives – even after the loss of our children. But we don’t want to forget them, and we want them to be there as we forward with our lives. We want to keep them in our hearts and in our minds, but we don’t want our memories and love of our children to debilitate us, stifle us, and stop us in our paths. We want people to know that there is a permanent hole in our hearts, one that will never heal or get better – even with time. But we also want to love others and be open to love with our entire unconditional heart.

When we smile and laugh, some people seem to think we are better. But we are not. When we sell our home and move on to another home, people say it is good that we are leaving those memories behind. But we are not. When we have another child, people think the new child replaces the love and pain we have for our lost child. But it does not.

We are like a broken statue or torn painting. They can be glued and fixed, retouched and repainted, fixed to the point of looking new. But it is still broken and damaged. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, it will still be in need of repair, and will forever be damaged.

CCI09272014_00019Healing. Healing from a wound or an injury is something that can be measured. Healing from a car accident or from a fall can be quantified, measured and tracked. That type of healing is a trip. It has a beginning and hopefully an end. It can be short, or very long, but there is an end in sight, and a person can achieve healing. After it, you can go back to who you were, and put it behind you.

But the tragedy that we have endured, the loss of a child, is not a trip. It is a journey. A journey that we will be on for the rest of our lives. Struggling with for the rest of our lives. There is no end. There is no cure. There is no mile marker 0 at the end of the road that we wish to see one day. It is an endless journey of grief. Of course the grief lessens over time, we cry less, we open up more, we learn to live with our loss. But we never heal. The road that we are on has no happy ending, no happy ever after, it doesn’t end.

During the never-ending healing process we have our memories and our feelings. Some of them fade over time, some of them we learn to cherish more and re-tell them as often as we can. But we also make room for more memories, newer memories, newer feelings. We try not to push out the old, but we have to make room for the new. We don’t want to forget, we don’t want to move on – but we learn that we cannot live if we cannot make room for love and for new memories in our lives.

DSC_0843That is the paradox that we live with every hour, every day, every month, every year. What can we remember, and what can we chose to forget. Or do we choose not to forget anything, and just make more room in our lives for the new?  Those who do not make room for the new will never heal, unfortunately. Those who stop living the day their child died – have died as well. We want to move on in our children’s honor, and to honor their memories – that is what they would have wanted. We need to honor their lives, cherish their memories, and put our pain and sorrow into a pocket, or a cubbie,  that we know is always there, but that does not stop us from living the lives our children could not. That is the paradox of healing.


5 thoughts on “The Paradox of Healing

  1. Dru West

    What a beautiful post that touches my heart so deeply. My beautiful, spirited daughter Julia died in March 2013 and I have been on this roller coaster or teeter-totter for over two years and this post is so true. I am the editor for my local chapter of Compassionate Friends newsletter and I would deeply appreciate sharing this post in the next newsletter. May I have your permission? Also, may I reblog this post on the site I have for my daughter?

    Thank you…

  2. Barbara

    To honor their memories and move, to carry them with us always and make them a part of this moving process……………well said Perry, but so hard to do. thank you again.

  3. Graham's Mom

    What you write perfectly describes the conundrum for bereaved parents. How do we find a way to keep our children present in our lives without becoming stuck in the past? You are so right when you say that we are on a journey that we will have to endure the rest of our lives. There is no way off this roller coaster ride. It is the ultimate nightmare. Yet we all want to find a way to manage it and keep on living. I think that we all have to continue figuring this out every single day.

  4. Lorraine

    You put into words so beautifully what most of us have trouble expressing. I was having a discussion this weekend with my two surviving children about our loss of my son and they were upset that I said I wasn’t afraid to die now. They didn’t understand that it didn’t mean that I wanted to die, just that knowing I’ll see my beautifl son again made me not afraid. I can now show them your beautiful letter and they will understand what I was trying to say. So sorry for all of us grieving parent. God Bless.


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