The Choice to Heal

Healing your soul after loss of a loved one is a deeply personal choice.

In some traditional societies, widows will choose to identify themselves as widows by wearing only black for the rest of their lives. They literally wear the loss of their husband on their perpetually black sleeve, for life. It’s one of many examples of a grief that defines the person.

My mother never healed her soul after my brother’s suicide at age 43. She kept a fire of anger burning inside until the day she died. Her anger was directed at life, at her late son, at his widow, and it shadowed every day of her life from that point on. Her anger exhausted her, hollow out her soul and deprived her of so much happiness. Her choice, her decision was that she would never love life again, she would only pretend when she had to.

Five years after my brother’s suicide, when our twenty year old son died in an avoidable firefighter training accident, I resolved to not be angry and unhealed like my mother. I had recognized anger as the enemy of healing.

It’s arrogant to believe that the loss of a loved one is somehow meant to destroy our ability to love our life. Are we that important to the purpose of the Universe that some process decided that we would be partially or fully miserable for the rest of our life, because someone we loved reached the end of their life? And most importantly, how much pain and suffering would our lost loved one wish upon us as punishment for our having loved them?

The refusal to allow ourselves to heal is a very immature phase of grief. We are grief toddlers when we decide that if we can’t have what we wanted, what we once had, we will have an angry tantrum for the rest of our lives. It can become a bad habit that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as our ongoing unhealed grief makes it harder for those around us to love us. Those who don’t heal to comfort, isolate themselves using their grief as a shield from happiness that keeps our anger inside.

The human soul is where we gather and store love that we use in daily life, and love that we share with others. Anger is a cancer of the human soul that consumes love, hollowing out the person’s love for life. When your soul is wounded by losing a loved one, some of the love that defines us flows out through the wound of the loss. If we allow the anger of our grief to restrict our ability to receive love from others and from life’s activities, our soul darkens and gets colder. The cancer of anger takes root, and we get darker and colder with time.

Your soul needs two things to begin to heal. The first thing your soul needs is your conscious permission to let your soul heal, an acknowledgement that you are ready and want to heal back to loving life again. Your soul won’t force you to heal it. Your soul will respect your will to stay as you are, wounded, if that’s how you wish to define yourself. You must decide that you are ready to let your soul heal and give yourself permission to heal.

Once your soul has your permission to heal, all it needs is love. Not love exactly like the one you lost, just some love from daily life and from the people around you who want you back from the darkness of your grief. Anything that brings a smile, any activity or hobby that you love doing, you can find small bits of love almost anywhere.

As you begin repairing and refilling your soul with love, you must actively extinguish anger from the loss. Anger from loss is mostly you taking the loss personally, and expressing how it has negatively affected you. Anger completely overrides and consumes the love you had shared so well. Anger disrespects and diminishes how you have valued that love. Anger is irresponsible to the love you built together. If you choose to allow anger into your grief, you become the arsonist burning down the hallowed garden where you built love together.

Tough love ahead warning: If you wish to stay as you are, please stop here.

“It’s too hard”. It was much harder for them, they have died. You’re alive and making this all about you and your pain. It’s supposed to be all about remembering them in ways that you find comfortable and enriching for the rest of your life. You’re supposed to be doing the hard work, finding and putting the pieces of you back together into some semblance of normality.

Give your soul permission to heal, so put out the fires of your anger and get out there and collect some loving memories and allow yourself to enjoy some life again. You can do this; you’re rebuilding your soul in lasting memory of a great love that you built together.

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