Another friend of mine was in a car wreck. The airbag hit her wrist the wrong way, and her wrist shattered. It took surgery and a couple of months to heal. When she went to see the doctor, he would x-ray, see how it was progressing, make sure there were indicators of healing there. She went from one kind of cast to another finally to a brace and eventually nothing. Her ability to use her wrist and hand went from nothing to pinching with fingertips to gripping with fingers to full functionality. A lot of strength had to be regained. It seemed like the healing would never be complete, but eventually it was. Now her wrist is fine, but wow, did it take time to reach "fine".
From the outside, the injuries look the same. However, they were very different breaks. While the small break took only six weeks for full recovery, no one would expect that of the second break. There were just too many things involved in the healing process.
Emotional healing works the same way.
Sadly too many people think healing is controlled by calendar pages, not personal pain. They think recovering from divorce, a death, or a given loss works in a pre-packaged time frame.
The truth is the second year can be harder than the first. Circumstances play a roll as well. This year a friend of mine had her fourth year divorced. It was her worst for reasons few can understand. The first year my mom was gone was drowned by the marital collapse and death of my husband. It wasn't until I had found my way through the loss of marriage and my children's dad that the reality hit--my mom was gone. That was a breath-snatching Christmas.
I know a precious lady whose marriage split up after 15 years. Her sweetheart since high school, only man she had ever dated, ever kissed, ever believed loved her walked out of their home and into the bed of a woman nearly fifteen years younger than she or her husband are. I couldn't imagine what that was like, and a mutual friend and I were discussing it one day because we were concerned, and the mutual friend said, "I'll be glad when she is done with the first year. She'll be fine then."
I couldn't believe the naivete'. Really? You think she will step over that calendar one-year mark and everything will be fine?
"Well, she'll have gone through all the holidays and lived. Then it is time for her to move on and get over it."
Two and a half years.
That is how long it has been since everything began for us.
When the path we were on became obvious, I made a list. It was my "Other Side" list. It was my criteria for what "the other side" looked like. I would know we had made it through once I saw these things active in our lives.
About a month ago I realized we are living that list. We are on "the other side".
In the last 2 1/2 years we've endured incredible pain, cried more than we thought was humanly possible, questioned, screamed in rage, put up walls to protect us from people with bad intentions...and people with good intentions who hurt unintentionally...laughed a lot, found new hobbies...rebuilt our lives.
Rebuilding has taken time.
Working through the pain of the loss...
Working through the anger...
Finding new hobbies...
Finding new joy...
It is a process, not a switch we get to hit.
One of the best gifts we've received from friends we've kept close to us is the gift of time. In fact, their patience is one of the reasons we've kept them close.
They had no time frame for when we should be past the anger or when birthdays shouldn't hurt. They didn't have the expectation that "the first year is the hardest but the second year will be so much easier." They were simply in, for as long as it took, until our feet were on solid ground again and life didn't hurt so much.
They understood healing isn't about the amount of time that has passed. It is about the progress that is made.
Healing is not about getting through the first year or beyond the milestone anniversary. It is not about ticks of time or flipping of calendar pages.
Healing is about reaching a place that is better than what it used to be.
Healing is progressing from where one is to a place where life hurts less and hope leads more.
And that takes time.