Does time heal all wounds?

Coping with Grief / Coping with Grief : Eleanor Haley

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I'm not sure when it happens, I guess for everyone, it's different. What day was it when I stopped remembering what my mother's voice sounded like? I knew I could call her old cell phone for a while, and her voicemail would pick up…but then the service shut off, and it was gone.

There are many things about life and grief that don't seem meaningful at the time, but when you look back on them, it seems like they should have been more significant. Like how many days after her death did I decide it was time to go back to my "normal" life? Although I can't really remember my decision-making process in the days following her death, I feel sure it wasn't altogether rational. All I know is, I only took a week. One week. After that, it was back to life, back to a new job, back to a new marriage, back to my first pregnancy. This was my life, and life had to move forward. "Time stops for no one," isn't that what they say?

Time certainly doesn't stop for grief, but grief is more than willing to come along for the ride. Grief was my closest companion during the first few years after my mom died. It was there when my first daughter was born; every time my husband and I argued; every time I saw a girl in her 20's with her mother on the street; every time I heard the word 'Cancer.' Grief was there so often it became a full time cast member in my life.

"Time heals all wounds," isn't that what they say?

Well, we all know that isn't true. How many of us walk around thinking that by putting time between us and death, we are dealing with grief? We figure we can put it away in a dark corner of our closet and only bring it out when we're ready for a good cry. Eventually, we will open the closet, and it will be gone…right?

In truth, things did get easier over time, but I was no less 'over it.' At any moment, I could be completely thrown off by the single thought of my mother's death. Walking down the street, I'd be knocked over by intense anger. It would come out of nowhere and then slowly drain out of me until I felt just a little sadder than I did just a few minutes prior.

does time heal all wounds?

I needed to deal with my grief. But where to begin?

Thanks to the nature of my work, I spent a lot of time surrounded by people who were incredibly supportive of grief, no matter how it manifests. They reminded me that grief is not a problem to be solved; it is a weight to be carried. I also had exposure to the resources out there for those who have experienced a loss. Of course, there are common suggestions – support groups, books, grief counselors. If you're open to talk or group therapy, these can be invaluable and irreplaceable tools. But the methods that appealed to me were different than what I found in most brochures, journals, and books.

I needed more practical and specific suggestions, education that reached beyond generalizations, outlets for expressing myself, and opportunities for exploration. These were outlets that I wasn't aware of back when I should have started dealing with the loss of my mother. Around when I decided to get back to my "normal" life and fumble through the darkness alone and blind. Why do so many of us do this? Sometimes it seems out of necessity. Grief is sad, scary, and way too often thought of as an awkward topic.

The last happy memory of my mother happened about a month before we found out she had cancer, one year before her death. She and some of my family drove from New York to Baltimore for my bridal shower. Ohh's and Ahh's over new pans and Pyrex were the order of the day. My sister-in-law passed around a little notepad for all the married women to write down their best' marital advice'.

This is the type of party detail she always remembers, and I always forget. I can't tell you how grateful I am that she was on the party planning committee because that little notebook is now my most treasured possession. Inside my mom wrote, on our last happy day together, "You can never go back, only forward. Go forward together…Keep singing. Be happy! You make me proud."

handwritten note that says: "be happy! you make me proud. love, mom."

Well, today, that what I'm trying to do, go forward any way I can. We can do it together, all of us. That's what this blog is about. We'll be here when you're ready.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We wrote a book!

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for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

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16 Comments on "Does time heal all wounds?"

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  1. Annette  March 3, 2021 at 2:29 am Reply

    I lost my mama July 2020 from Alzheimer’s. To know her there’s no way you would have thought she could ever get Alzheimer’s. Her death and my grief has been the worst thing that has happened to me. I put on a good face for everyone but the pain explodes when I am alone. Your articles help me feel that I’m not crazy. That what I’m feeling is normal. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hannah  June 2, 2019 at 4:52 am Reply

    I lost my Dad (60) unexpectedly, 3 weeks ago and I don’t know what to do with myself. I have 3 brothers and my mum and we are a very close family, but Mum is completely lost and broken, they were married 30 years and together for 35, best friends and still acted like teens who were in love. We have no idea how to help her or even if anything can? Dad would want us to look after Mum, but some days I find it so hard to support her when I just want to cry myself. I’m due to get married in October, my Dad was so excited for the wedding I can’t imagine doing it without him and truthfully I don’t want to do anything without him in future. We all went on holiday and spent Christmas, Easter, New Years etc together every year and I feel guilty that we are going to have to do that without him soon. How do people deal with such a loss ??

  3. Aimee  January 20, 2019 at 5:31 pm Reply


  4. Because  October 20, 2018 at 1:51 am Reply

    Eleanor, I’ve been a part of this page for about a year now after not only losing one parent (my daddio age62) but then (my moma age58) followed him just a few months later completing destroying me breaking and resulting in my inabilanlity to get it together for the first and only time in my life i was broken to the point that that i couldn’t put it back together ot put it back together. . honestly this page has been my outlet to continue on and a great source to look to to pass time in my most broken of broken moments. I honestly do not reply to peoples writings because instead I read and then write myself .. therapy has taught me over this past year to educate my self, read , hear others stories , then write it and release it signifying im releasing it once and for all. I thought my therapist wasnt truly keeping these writings cuz I was turning them in on a weekly sevhedule and each week would have no less than 15/20 pages. i thought when her and i burned them at a year there be no way it be my actual writings so this week my final assignment was to write my full conclusion of this past 365 and do you know what my Title was? They Say Time Heals All Wounds! Are you A believer ? I next went onto to give my theory on that topic and if i didn’t know i didn’t write yours i would truly question if you had copied me literally that’s how close you and myself relate on the topic. So i decided it was time to for once that i reply. Thank u for sharing. Your writings are as real as real can be. I pray you continue to heal and you get these lil life memos to help ease your broken heart and have the most beauitful memories rather then channeling each event, day, thing, or place of any siginigance into grief. Its the worst of the worst way to live. And i wouldn’t wish it on anyone. So im so sorry hon for heartache you suffered. Take Care Doll and continue to write and share , YOU ROCK!

  5. Kirsty  September 2, 2018 at 5:42 am Reply

    It’s father’s day today where I am. But you are not here.
    It is a time to honour and reflect and remember. But you are not here.
    Sometimes life just does not make sense without you in it dad.
    You, the anchor, my rock my soul mate. I miss you like air.
    Today has been the hardest day in my grief journey so far. Or maybe I have said that already many times over. I wanted to write you a card, I wanted to hear your voice, I wanted to make you laugh. But you are not here.
    The silence is deafening. Your laughter filled the room. My life. My heart. My children saw you as some huge presence. To me you were a super hero.
    There will be a tree to honour you. I feel so humbled by that.
    I will get around to buying that camera and to snapping my way through my grief – but for some reason I haven’t done that yet. I am not ready? I am taking my time. Moving slowly. Sometimes I am present and I can feel and be – other times I am merely in motion. No past and no essence.
    I can feel you dad – I can feel you in every aspect of my life. You are with me and I can breathe. If I think – then I go on a slippery ride to who knows where.
    But I am here – and you are where you need to be and I can somehow still breathe. I feel the tide of life, its current moving me on – or maybe that is also you – urging me to live. Begging me to live. I cannot die because you did – so therefore all that is left is to live. So live I will and live I do. Alive I am.
    Love you dad. Thanks for the blood in my veins, the values in my heart and the spirit that soars just for having known you. Just for the rare gift that was you. I valued you every minute I spent with you – I knew how lucky I was and I am so thankful for you.
    I am living now, because you taught me to.
    Happy father’s day. xx

    • Doe  July 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm Reply

      That’s beautiful Kirsty!

  6. Beth  June 21, 2017 at 10:56 am Reply

    We lost our precious 30 year old only daughter to a sudden massive heart attack two years ago yesterday. The grief is still overwhelming for me. We were close, best friends, talked daily, even if for just a minute. She had been married 1 1/2 years, still in honeymoon stage. They were trying for baby, talking about buying first house. Making plans for their life. My son in law just got out of rehab for alcohol. I worry for him daily. Her passing has hit us all very hard. She had a big presence, big beautiful smile and laugh. Very warm and beautiful with family and friends. I never imagined my life without my daughter in it. My husband and I have withdrawn from our friends, but thankfully not from each other. Seems the other is all we really want to be with. I did find your story hopeful. And I think we are realizing, my husband and I, that just hoping time will make it easier for us is not happening. We have to figure out how to live with this grief.

  7. Shirley Thorne  June 21, 2017 at 8:24 am Reply

    My husband passed away on the 27th May 2015. They say time heals everything. I have a great family and friends and they try so hard to help me BUT Ray Charles sings a song that states TIME STOOD STILL when you left. Well how true that is. The song is called Can;t Stop loving you. That is so true. Every day I try to get on with things but he is always on my mind and o HOW I MISS HIM. I know he would be telling me to get along with life, but how can you when your life left you. He tried so hard to stay but that word CANCER takes what it wants. Anyway I hope a lot more people cope better than I do, I am just waiting for the day to join him. No I am not going to do anything stupid because I know he would not like that BUT I really need him to be beside me in the flesh which wont happen until we meet in the after life. Anyway that’s all I have to say, but I am trying and hope everyone else in my position will as well and the outsiders are there to just be there for them when they need that shoulder to cry on without asking questions. Thank you

  8. Cara Casale  June 20, 2017 at 8:19 pm Reply

    I have outlived two husbands.
    I will be fifty next week.
    It is excruciating, again.
    But lonelier this time, because I don’t know anyone else under 80 that has experienced this.

  9. Jean kirschenheiter  June 20, 2017 at 11:32 am Reply

    A beautiful story of you & your mother. I am a recent gold star mother. August 28, 2016 is when I heart was broken forever. My soldier son lost the battle from PTSD & suicide. I wake up every day to it and go to bed with it. He was my pride & joy. He was a amazing father to 4 beautiful children. I know that grieving is different for each person but I feel isolated at times. Like when I don’t hear from anyone anymore. After the funeral everyone disappears. Theta say is there anything I can do! More than anything I’d love to have the company of family or friends. Don’t be afraid to talk about my son because when you aren’t talking about him it makes me feel he is forgotten. I have a middle son but he won’t even give me the time of day. No mothers day call or text, card. No empathy for his fallen brother on memorial day. His birthday, my birthday. Easter, Christmas etc…… if it wasn’t for my beautiful daughter & 3 grandchildren living so close to me and being together a lot I don’t know where I’d be.

  10. Sharon King  June 20, 2017 at 10:41 am Reply

    My husband passed away 7 months ago. We would have celebrated our 35th anniversary 1 month later. He fell on Nov 3, paramedics took him to the hospital. He had been to the doctor 2 weeks prior, blood count was 13.8, but at the hospital his blood count was 4.2, he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He came home with Hospice and died holding my hand on the 14th. I’m thankful he didn’t suffer, he only had pain in his hip from his fall. I miss him and I’ve had our kids and they’ve been amazing but they have lives of their own, they hurt too as well as our grandkids, so I hold up for them. I miss him, I am so lonely in a houseful of people.

  11. Sue Gordon  June 20, 2017 at 9:08 am Reply

    I lost my husband 21 months ago at the age of 65, after battling cancer for 5 years. Some wounds never heal, we just learn to live with it. The sadness moves to a different place in our hearts. I miss him more now than I did when he left me in Oct 2015–but I can now talk about him without breaking down, I can smile at the memories. Most days I can remember the 36 years of love before I remember the awful details of his last 2 weeks. That doesn’t mean I still don’t have my days where nothing can stop the pain/sadness/tears and loneliness, but they are getting a little farther apart.
    Grief counseling was the very best thing I did for myself–I highly encourage it for everyone walking this lonely journey…

  12. Nadia  June 20, 2017 at 2:34 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My mom passed away four months ago and it’s hitting me hard right now. I feel very alone and at times quite alienated. I don’t have a strong support system so I’ll probably seek professional support. Reading your story did help me for tonight.

  13. Robina.  October 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm Reply

    This is beautiful. My mum died a year in December. Thank you for sharing.
    May I rephrase some of the words to make them more personal…..

  14. Jason Ellis  April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm Reply

    Thank you Eleanor for sharing your brave story. It sounds like you have a pretty solid support system and that’s so crucial in the wake of a loss – even one that’s not so recent. This blog is a beautiful community that you’ve created and I wish you much love in your healing.

    • Eleanor  April 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm Reply

      Thank you Jason. I do have a good support system, which I understand makes me very lucky. Thank you for visiting the blog.

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