Entries filed under Suffering & Loss

Time helps, but it never heals.

Posted on September 11, 2014 Comments

It has been 13 years since the terrorist attacks that have shaped the changes in the military, government, security, and overall atmosphere of the United States.  Over those years people have been healing, the wounds have started to close, but what we all have to remember as a society, as individuals, as human beings; is that when you lose someone that way time may help, but it is never going to fully heal that wound.

Loss is something that is difficult to deal with for everyone, and there is no one easy, fast, or right way to deal with it. Expecting someone to get past any kind of loss in a certain period of time is something that is not realistic, it is also not compassionate of someone to expect someone to get over loss in a time period you deign is correct. Because there is no timeline for healing, an emotional wound cannot be held up to a pain scale, it cannot be ranked from 1 to 10, there is no way for you to end up forcing yourself to get over it.

There is a new movie out called The Fault In Our Stars, and in it there is a perfect monologue by the main character after she loses someone she loves, this quote is true for people experiencing loss:

One of the first things they ask you in the ER is to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. I’d been asked this question hundreds of times and I remember once, early on, when I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, and the nurse asked me to rate the pain and though I couldn’t speak, I held up 9 fingers. Later on, when I’d been feeling better, the nurse came in and she called me a fighter. “You know how I know,” she said. “Because you called a ten a nine.” But that wasn’t the truth. The reason I called it a nine was… I was saving my ten.

When you are in emotional pain, you can call it any number you want, you can tell people you’re fine; it doesn’t make it true, it does not make it better, it does not heal it. If you go up to one of those people who lost someone on September 11, 2001 and expect them to be healed, then you’re forcing an unrealistic expectation on them. You are in fact going to hurt them. They have lost someone, family, friends, lovers, they are gone and they can never be brought back; and you think they can heal, they can’t. You can be better, you can go through everyday and not have to think about that event daily; but it is not going to make it go away. No one is going to have a huge gaping wound, but you’re going to have a wound nonetheless, time helps, time doesn’t heal; it is not an antibiotic, it is not a surgical procedure, it cannot heal.

So what do you do for someone who has a wound like this, something they cannot heal from; something they will carry with them the rest of their life? The fact is you might not be able to, you might just have to let them deal with it on their own; some people might even not want help for various reasons. The easiest way to help is to let them show you they need it, and to pay attention to their nonverbal cues they may need help after a loss. Nurses will constantly have patients especially the older ones, who will have lost someone recently, whether it is their spouse, an older family member, a younger family member, a friend, a room mate from their facility, etc. and sometimes they may not say anything. You may find them alone in their room, take the extra time to sit and speak to them, ask them if they look sad what you can do or say, “You look upset would you like to talk.” Be there for them, this goes for anyone, let them talk nod, and make soft encouraging noises to keep them going on; but let them feel it. It won’t heal them, but it will help.

With today’s significance, everyone should keep in mind those they know who lost someone in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and keep in mind those around them who may be feeling that loss just a little stronger today. Keep in mind anyone who has experienced loss and that while they are better while time has helped, it cannot just heal; they probably won’t ever heal.