I’m in pain! When will it stop? In one form or another, the question of “when” comes up. When will I feel better? When will this intense hurt go away? When will I feel normal again…?
I started looking for published grief timelines almost right away. I knew I couldn’t live forever under the soul-crushing circumstances that my loss dished out. Google search: how long does grief last? I want a date. Mark it on the calendar, after that date, whatever it is, I will be better.
There is no specific date…according to those who know. Ok, then…I will set my own. After the first holidays, I will be in a better place. When I reach 6 months, all will begin to be normal again. Maybe tomorrow…maybe tomorrow I will feel good?
There just is no way of knowing, no time set in the future, no activity accomplished, no milestone passed that will soothe the ache that gnaws at my heart. Even within one of the many “lows” that I have experienced, it doesn’t end (or start) on my timetable. I can’t make the pain go away…I have to endure it.
So, no clock? It would seem that if we gave ourselves room to grieve, no matter how long that takes, time would not be a factor in our journey. To often, failing to meet a self-imposed deadline for recovery creates a sense of failure and frustration. Shall we throw the expectations out the window? Maybe…
Jesus gave us insight on worry…
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The temptation is to compare ourselves to others, statistical references, and our own illogical expectations for healing. Grief work takes time! Time, itself, doesn’t bring about healing, it’s the work of grief that changes you. This work is yours and yours alone. You step through it at your own pace as God leads.
Of course, there is a “pace.” You must keep moving. The alternative is getting “stuck.” Stuck is an ignoring of grief (as if that’s possible). No movement means the pain remains, spills into other areas of the mind and behavior, and puts off inevitable work that will be more difficult to accomplish the longer one is stuck. You’re hurt will not just go away or vanish. It’s a part of you. You must deal with it.
Concern yourself with today. What do you need to address today? Manage the issues that plague you right now. When you add up each day in which you work on the problem that is before you, weeks and months of hard grief work materialize. Worries about getting to a certain place by a certain time, or wondering if you are where you should be or if you’re normal will evaporate. The work is steady, the time will take care of itself, and God’s work will be done in your heart.