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Healing: A Bridge To The Future
by Rick Silver
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Healing: A Bridge To The Future

By Rick Silver, MD

“L” had been seeing me, following the loss of a 30-year marriage. The relationship’s collapse devastated her, and she was immobilized by grief and unable to let go and move on. Yet time and again she told me she saw no reason to do so. There was no life without her husband, she would say, and no way to live with the tremendous grief that daily tore at her heart. “The pain is too great” she would say. “I can’t take it anymore.”

However, with time L gradually began to heal. Glimmers of a long-hidden spirit began to shine through her pain. I mentioned this to her, as if to say, “Look at this tender shoot arising from your soul. What a miracle! Imagine what might grow from this.”

L resisted these invitations at first, not out of stubbornness, but because her world was still so colored by loss that it was difficult to stay positive. But the shoot had a power that could not be denied, and eventually L was able to open her eyes to the changes within her, and to accept that in small ways she was regaining her strength and capabilities.

L still struggles with letting go. Each day is a hard-won battle with the grief that haunts her. She longs to be free from her pain and slides backward when consumed by her powerful emotions. She tells me: “I was outside the other day, shoveling the snow in my driveway, but with tears streaming down my face.” I remind her that last year she could not even go outside to shovel snow. Still, L argues for her being stuck: “How can I live like this, how can I spend my life crying?”

Healing is not forgetting, I tell her, but more like a bridge between past and future. We still ache for what is lost – perhaps we will always ache for what has been – even as we tentatively reach out for the hopeful ground ahead. We are never truly free from our past, but we can be free to go wherever a strong heart may lead us. Once again we can experience our spirit and power, and understand that our pain does not define us.

I suggested to L that perhaps life would always be about tearfully shoveling snow – but shoveling none the less. Perhaps this is balance? She looked at me, a bit of a smile brightening her face. Her head nodded gently. In that moment, the possibility of growth was clear.

That tender shoot of hope is something to be cherished and nourished. And it can be found in each of us, and it can bring light into the darkest of places.


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