Does Time Heal All Wounds? : Beyond the BEAR

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

by Dola Spering on 01/29/20

What does it mean to heal? Dictionary.com defines healing as the act or process of regaining health. But what does health look like when what you are healing from is the loss of your baby? Can you actually even heal from that? 


To answer that question, I think we need to look at some of the lies we are told (and might actually believe) about healing and then see what healing actually is in terms of loss and grief and love. 


The first lie is that time heals all wounds. Wow! What a ludicrous statement. This isn’t even true in the simplest medical sense. For instance, let’s say you get a paper cut. It will heal on its own correct? Nope! Even a small paper cut sets off a process of healing in the body. Your body is actively fighting disease and working to heal the wound, usually without you even noticing too much. Now let’s liken that paper cut to an average middle school break-up. Yea, it hurts at the time. Sometimes really bad. But eventually, with the help of parents and friends, you realize there are plenty of fish in the sea. Life goes on.  


Now let’s look at a stab wound. No one in their right mind would say a stab wound would “heal with time.” No way. This would require major intervention from medical professionals and work on your part. It would hurt for quite some time. You would have a scar. You may have organ damage or need physical therapy. Etc. So why is the stab wound so much worse than the paper cut? Because it goes deeper. It affects more of the body. And what happens if you don’t take care of it? It can be deadly. Or at the very least, it can make any real level of healing impossible. 


The stab wound? That’s baby loss. That’s going into your 20 week anatomy scan and instead hearing “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” That’s realizing at 37 weeks you haven’t felt your baby move all day and seeing the nurse’s face turn away because she can’t bear to tell you. It’s walking into your 4 months old room and realizing they aren’t breathing. It’s standing by a casket that is way too small in the rain, when there is already your baby’s name on the headstone from 14 months earlier. 


That wound goes deep. It can cause organ failure. It is going to leave a scar. And it will change you forever. You will need the help of so many people if you are to even begin to heal from that wound. Maybe even a medical professional. And you are going to have to do some work yourself. This wound affects every part of your life. It is not going to be easy and it is not going to happen over night. Healing takes time. But time itself does not heal. 


The second lie we believe is that to heal means to “get over it.” What does it even mean to “get over” something anyway? Some people would like us to just stop talking about our child, like they never existed. It’s almost like we aren’t supposed to think about them after a certain amount of time. “It’s been over a decade since your sons have died and you still talk about them? Oh my, that is so morbid!” “It’s been over a decade since your last c-section and you still have the scar? Oh my, that is unhealthy!” “Wow! Your arm is still amputated after all these years? Why don’t you just pretend you have an arm there so you don’t make everyone else uncomfortable?” Do you see how absolutely ridiculous these sound? Why is it ok to say the first to a parent who has lost a child? Why do we sometimes tell ourselves these lies and ask ourselves these questions? Maybe because grief distorts our sense of time, but I remember thinking early on after my sons died that it had been a while and I should have been in a different spot. I’m talking months later, not years. 


But you know what I never questioned? I never once wondered why I still loved my two oldest children or my youngest son after they were a few months old, or years, or now that they are teenagers and 9 years old. Why would I stop loving my kids though? Exactly. Jeremiah and Vincent are my sons too. Why would I stop loving them just because they are no longer here with me? 


And that leads me to the third lie, which is that healing means the grieving is over. I grieve my sons because I love them. Grief is love. And because I will never stop loving them I will never stop grieving them. Loving them looks different than loving my living children but it is still love. I keep their memory alive. I fight for the rights of other grieving women to honor their own babies in a way that is meaningful to them. I do what I can to help others find comfort in their own grief, mostly by sending them teddy bears, but also by letting them know they are not alone. Does the fact that I am still grieving mean I am not healing? 


Well, to answer that question, let’s look at what healing actually is. The biological process of healing is exactly that - a process. Old or damaged cells need to be recycled and replaced and new cells need to be made. Sometimes scar tissue is formed. Sometimes (usually) the healing process is painful. If you are healing from an infection, your body is actively fighting to destroy those invaders. Emotional healing isn’t that different. It is a process. It can be painful. Scars are formed that remind us. Sometimes it is a fight to survive against the guilt, shame or depression that invade our minds and hearts. 


Would you tell an amputee that they were not healed because their limb didn’t grow back? Of course not! But things are different now. Healthy looks different for them. The same goes for a grieving parent. Things are not the same and they never will be again, but that does not mean that healing has not taken place. 

 

Another thing about healing is that what works for me may not work for you. Are there general principles common to everyone? Yes. But healing is not a one-size-fits-all type of process.  Each person is unique and each loss is unique, so what helps one person heal may not help another at all or may even hurt someone else. We have had so many people tell us that their Project BEAR teddy has helped them so much, but ironically, I myself have never used a teddy bear at all, except on October 15th when we light our candles for the boys. I had no idea when I started Project BEAR that a teddy bear would bring so much comfort to so many. 


I see so many expecting others to heal in the same way they do, and when that doesn’t happen, they assume the other person isn’t healing at all. (You can insert the word grieving instead of healing…) This can happen within a relationship between a mother and father, both dealing with the loss of their precious baby and can obviously cause a real strain on the relationship. I don’t really have an answer for how best to deal with this issue, except to give each other grace and compassion and to know that both of you are grieving/healing and doing the best you can in the way that you know how. 


Lastly, healing from a wound of this magnitude, I don’t believe will ever be complete here on Earth. There will always be that scar; the limb doesn’t ever grow back. Sometimes the pain never goes away. So what then? Well, I believe there will come a day when complete healing will come. When my literal c-section scar is no longer there and the scar of losing my boys has gone away as well. Revelation 21:4 says that in heaven, God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!” I may not experience full healing here, but I can look forward to it. Not only will I have my boys back, for all eternity, but I will have Jesus, who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and by whose wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

    


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