Does Time Heal?

I discovered this quote from singer/songwriter Jack Johnson:  And if they tell you love fades over time, tell them there is no such thing as time.

His quote also got me thinking about the passage of time as it relates to our grief journeys. Many in our society believe that there is a set time period for resolving our grief. In six months to a year, it is generally expected that one should be “over” his/her grief and return to life, as he/she knew it.

What is also implied is that there are practical solutions to the losses that we experience. The reality is that any loss we experience permanently changes our world and that there is no set time period to resolve it or practical solutions. However, one of my friends recently suggested that LOVE is the solution to even those things that we may not believe has one.

On this point, I agree.

For those of us who have experienced losses that have defied the natural order of the universe (such as the death of a child, death of a young wife or husband), our world is forever changed and we never get over our loss. We get through it by learning to live with both joy and sadness, while simultaneously making a decision to find meaning again by celebrating our children’s lives.

In the process, we also find meaning through service to others. There is no set time frame. As individuals, we all take different paths to finding meaning as a result of our struggles with loss. We need to be able to unconditionally support every individual’s journey and bear witness to it.  The power of both support and presence cannot be underestimated.

Also, we can experience the intense pain of loss at any time during our journeys, depending on what is going on with us in the present moment. One, five, ten or twenty years, it doesn’t matter. Our grief journeys are circular rather than linear.

The death of my daughter Jeannine has taught me to re-evaluate not only my values but the traditional expectation that time heals all wounds. Time hasn’t and won’t heal the wounds for me associated with the physical absence of Jeannine. What the passage of time has helped me do is adjust to her physical absence and develop a different kind of relationship with her.

My earthly journey and spiritual relationship will continue to evolve until the day that I cross over.  And then it will continue, for eternity.

David Roberts 2011

David Roberts

More Articles Written by David

David J. Roberts, LMSW ,became a parent who experienced the death of a child, after his daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. He is a retired addiction professional and is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Utica College, Utica, New York. Dave has presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents ,as well as local and regional venues. Dave was also the keynote speaker at both the 2011 and 2015 national gatherings of the Bereaved Parents of the USA. He is also a featured speaker,workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place(www.aspireplace.com) Dave is a HuffPost contributor and has also written articles for several other grief and self-improvement publications. He has co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries. One is on navigating grief during the holidays and the other is on pet loss. One of Dave's articles” My Daughter is Never Far Away" can also be found in Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Healing and Loss. Excerpts from Dave's article for The Open to Hope Foundation, called The Broken Places, were featured in the 2012 Paraclete Press DVD video, Grieving the Sudden Death of a Loved One. Dave has also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Advocacy Heals U radio shows , and the Open to Hope television show . Dave’s website: www.bootsyandangel.com is devoted to providing support and resources for individuals experiencing loss.

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  • Deb Kosmer says:

    A well thought out and well written article Dave. I am sure it will be helpful to many.

  • Mary Jane Hurley Brant says:

    Dave, you and I are on the same page. Wait until you read my newsletter coming out tomorrow before I read your sentiments….

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    I think your point about time is a great one to make. People always say time heals but like you are saying that’s an over-simplification. I also like to remind myself that it is what we do with that time that truly matters. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Much love, Lauren

  • Margot says:

    Great article. I just recently lost my daughter to AML.It is devastating and I doubt I will ever get used to the fact that she is gone. She left 4 children behind that I am raising at present and sometimes it does get difficult to keep their heads above water and mine.

  • Dave Roberts says:

    @Debbie. Thank you for your feedback and support. It is always appreciated

  • Dave Roberts says:

    @MJ. I read your newsletter this morning and all i can say is wow…….. My belief in the power of synchonicity increases by the minute.

  • Dave Roberts says:

    @Margot. Please accept my condolences for the death of your daughter. The death of a child is our worse nightmare as a parent, and forever changes the world we live in. I am sure that there are an additional set of challenges both practical and emotional due to the fact that you are raising your daughter’s children. For me, the passage of time has allowed me to find joy, amidst the sadness due to my daughter’s physical absence. Take care Margot

  • Dave Roberts says:

    @Lauren. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article. You are right about time healing being an oversimplification. When Jeannine died, my concept of the passage of time changed as well, along with other things. I also agree that what we do with our time is what really matters. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well. Take care

  • Vicki says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for your article. I lost my 29 year old son on January 1, 2011. He died in his sleep – unexpected. I have never experienced such heartache and sadness.
    Vicki

  • Dave Roberts says:

    Hi Vicki:
    Thank you for taking the time to read my article . I have experienced several significant losses in my life, including my daughter Jeannine, but the pain of losing my daughter was a pain unlike any other that I experienced. In time my pain became softer, and I was able to find joy again. But it is a process and be gentle with yourself along the way. Please accept my heartfelt condolences for the death of your son.

  • Nancy says:

    First & foremost I would Like to extend my condulence for the loss of your daughter Jeaniine. I too lost my 26 yr Ild son unexpectedly to a Car Accident, I still feel such emense pain & am trying hard to allow the pain to become a part of my life, but unfortunately it seems to still consume. My son has been gone for 11 mnts 2 wks it will be a year on 4/27/11.

  • Dave Roberts says:

    Hi Nancy: Thank you acknowledging the death of my daughter Jeannine. Please accept my condolences, as well for the death of your son. The pain of losing our children in early grief is raw, much like having a scab violently and without warning ripped off of our skin. In early grief, the pain consumes us. As time goes on we learn to assimilate our pain and use that to help others and eventually find meaning again. Also, the days leading up to our children’s angelversary dates can be as or more stressful than the actual day itself.

    I will be thinking of you and your son on 4/27. That is also the date of Jeannine’s birthday.

    Take care

  • Jo says:

    My sympathies to all of you that have lost a loved one and are grieving. It is the worst pain anyone can imagine. My daughters 1st “angelversary” is coming soon…..4-25-11 I am having a very painful time, reliving the 7 weeks she was in the hospital leading up to her passing. I miss her so much each and every day. I’m not a young person, but I could live a long time without her. That thought brings many more tears to my eyes. I am not anything like the person I was before her death and I don’t expect to ever come close to that again….my life has been changed forever.

  • Dave Roberts says:

    Hi Jo.
    Please accept my condolences for your daughter’s passing. I will be thinking of you and your daughter on the 25th of this month. You are right about being forever changed as a result of her death. I am not the person I was before Jeannine died, and won’t ever be. I have learned through the years that the struggle with her death has motivated me to try and make a difference in the lives of other bereaved individuals, and as a result has made me a more spiritually grounded individual. Take care

  • cynthia says:

    Jo, I know what you mean about not being the same person you once were, I am the same way since my precious 27 yr old only child died 3/21/11. I am a single parent and he lived with me all of his years. He embodied all that was the best in me. Dylan was kind and good and loved by all. When he passed it was like he took those things with him and left me with a shell of myself. But Jo, it is we who are left behind to represent what marvelous creations our children were and still are in our lives We owe it to their legacy to keep our lives full with love, and as much of the same goodness and light as they knew when they were with us. Reach way down in your heart and you will find yourself again and so will I..

  • Jo says:

    Cynthia,
    I am so sorry for your loss. It is so recent for you and you are trying to comfort me. Thank you for your kind words. My daughter was 34 yrs old and also lived with my husband and myself her whole life. She was born with Down Syndrome and also was kind and good and loved by all. I miss everything about her. We were so close and did so much together. She was our first child, she has a younger brother that misses her so much too. She was the light of our family. I have tried so hard over the past year to deal with my grief, but I’m not making alot of progress I don’t think. I have used counseling, read alot about other families and their processes, have a good friend who has stood by my side all the way through and prayed and cried alot. My husband and son are grieving in their own ways but it has drawn us closer too. My husbands health isn’t well either so that makes it harder still. I just try to get up each day and make it through and honor our daughter in some way every chance I can. Bless you and my sympathies on your loss of Dylan. Jo