“I need to move forward.”
A dear friend said this to me as she recounted that, earlier in the day, an emergency visit to the vet resulted in the need to euthanize her beloved dog. Not only was it unexpected, it was terrifying. Unless someone has done this, it is very difficult to understand the heartbreak and distress of holding a precious pet as they take their final breaths. She and I talked about her anguish and loss. Somewhere in the conversation she said, “I need to move forward.”
I was shocked. My initial response was, Why?
And then it occurred to me that so many of us are ENCOURAGED to move away from feelings of grief, or anything that resembles emotional pain. We need to learn how to resist the voice that prods us to move from where we are at the moment. We CAN stay where we are. In my friend’s case, I said, “You did enough today. There is nowhere to go now.” Be where you are, in this very sad place. Give yourself time to feel. Sometimes, despite the “conventional wisdom” of moving on, we need to stay put and NOT move so we can experience our life. We need to listen to our bodies and our spirit to find out what is required when our minds are telling us to rush through a difficult or unsettling time. It is likely that we need to do the opposite of rush. We need to slow down and probably stop.
We need to process; the heart requires time to heal. Talking to people who understand, being alone, visiting places or looking at pictures or objects that evoke memories, is the stuff of process. It takes time to find what will be our new normal. And what will that be? Who knows? Probably an inner state of being that welcomes the hurt and recognizes the value of having a place for it. Ultimately, we discover that we are going through the pain and we can get to a place where we are able to access our memories because we will have healthfully integrated the event into our being. This way, we can recall it without having it crush us.
This is a delicate process and requires honesty, self-reflection, time, and room for emotional expression; whatever form that takes. It is different for each of us and we owe it to ourselves to discover our own unique way.