I am not alone. Many others whose stories I’ve now heard, also feel the continued wound. I was about to explain it as being disabled – broken in a way that cannot be bandaged or expected to heal – because I do indeed feel the loss constantly. But the definition – having a physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, or activities – does not really fit. I sought about for the word to describe this lingering but invisible proof of the wound, and scar (a lasting aftereffect of trauma) really fits.
Oftentimes we can see a person has been wounded because of their visible scars. But all scars (physical, emotional, spiritual) are not visible. One of my employers who knew my childhood story of abuse asked me how I could be so normal. (I know, I know, my family were surprised too that anyone could think I am normal).
But seriously, what he was saying was that evidence of the wound was not visible. Later in life I had surgery for a ventral hernia. After the surgery I could not sleep on my right side from the pain. I was told that time would heal – give it a few weeks. After weeks I complained again and was told some patients take longer to heal, wait a few months. After months I was told that unfortunately if it wasn’t gone by now, it likely never would dissipate. The end of the story was discovering a sticky part of the repair mesh was applied facing internal organs, and scar tissue had entangled all surrounding tissue.
Physical therapy has reduced some of the tension and pain, and
though the scarring is not visible, the pulling, and pain will always be with me, and I’ve had to learn to live with it.
Those may seem to be odd comparisons, but part of my heart has been torn. I’ve talked to other parents whose experiences were 12 – 14 and over 20 years ago and they too all still feel their scar. They tell me the pulling, the pain, the evidence of the wound, do not lessen in time, but we do learn to live with it.
People keep asking how I am doing. I would love to remove that question from my world, and I finally figured out why. I don’t want to fake it and say fine, and I don’t want to think about an honest answer and sob all over the questioner. I searched to see if other grieving people had trouble with that question. It’s amazing what you find when you search for grief-responding-to-how-are-you. One website (noted below) though not spiritually based, reminded me of two spiritual lessons:
1) Phil. 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others
Should be obvious, I know, but these past months I have thought more of our extended family members and myself than of the ‘others’ who ask me that question. I need to remind myself constantly that they would not ask if they did not care – they could choose to simply avoid me. I need to remember that some of them have lost a loved one too. While it is easier to just say thank you to those who offer comfort by saying things that don’t require a response, like “I am here for you. I am praying for you, or remember to take care of yourself… I need to respect the hearts of others who ask, and to say things like, “Some hours are better.” (because, honestly, I haven’t gotten to ‘days’ yet.)
2) 2Cor. 13:11 …, be comforted, … (a command, meaning encouraged in the original language). At first I thought that is not what people who mourn want – to be encouraged. To be commanded. It seems inappropriate, even. But the definition is supported, uplifted, and nurtured. And the command is to make the choice to accept even sometimes painful “spiritual therapy.”
So, despite the tugging on my heart-scars whether I try to move away from the wound or remember it, or maybe because of it, I am learning with my many sisters-in-grief to look outward and to say thank you for caring.
Our grandson, Ben, at our daughter Laurie’s memorial said “No matter how long I would have had her with me, it would not have been long enough.” And so, I am encouraged too, to look upward and say thank you for the testimony of love that the one lost is so deeply missed.
And thank you, dear ones for your comfort – your nurturing – your support.