Welcome back to Restorative Grief. You are listening to episode 76, titled “Am I Ever Going to Heal?” This week is a short and sweet invitation into a new way of thinking. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the last four weeks. Migraines, a weekend of food poisoning, and now what seems to be an incoming cold or flu are making me seriously reconsider the pace at which I’m working. If you know anything about me, that pace is quite steady. But that level of intensity can’t sustain, especially for those of us in pursuit of healing. Whether it’s physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional, the truth and reality of our healing is important to remember when the unwellness seems never-ending.
Now I realize that a physical illness is not the same as grief, but let’s allow the lines to blur for today. We are whole people, and for those of us who have done some of that integration work, we can very easily describe how our mind, emotions, and spirit are impacted by physical illness, too.
We also know how grief takes a huge toll on our bodies, whether we cognitively recognize it or not. So when I hear the question, “Am I ever going to heal?” I get excited. The person asking this question is honest. They’re available. They’re on the brink of losing their hope not because everything is irrevocably broken, but because they are experiencing the realness of grief. Their experience is affecting every aspect of their lives, and it is exhausting on every level.
This is the place where a question like, “Am I ever going to heal?” becomes a challenge. It’s like a dare to those around us – do YOU know how to heal this? Because I don’t and I’m not sure it’s even a possibility for me.
The challenge, however, is not about an external force suddenly arriving and changing the tides. It’s an internal invitation for us to reconsider how we define what it means to heal. For most of the people I encounter, being healed is End Game. It’s the destination they’re aiming toward, no matter the ailment. This is where our first invitation gets messy and often, grievers walk away from working with me, to be completely honest. Healing is not a destination. It’s not a task we complete for a checkbox on a list.
Healing is an ongoing, lifelong practice of integrating what we learn about ourselves and loss into the mundane, daily life we lead.
I used to attend a lot of spiritual conferences and events, and almost every one of them left me feeling like I was standing on the top of a mountain, shouting and laughing and full of joy. I quickly burned out on the process when I realized I didn’t want to become a person who chased mountaintop experiences. I wanted to learn to integrate what I was understanding about myself and life into the daily tasks and encounters ahead.
The same is true with our grief work. We can have incredible moments of breakthrough, where we gain a new perspective or release an old one. Our momentary experience of healing is the point, but not for us to be able to point backwards toward a time when healing seemed realistic.
That moment that feels like healing is for us to become more present than we’ve ever been before and to experience that healing moment in our bones. To invite the understanding of what we call healing into our whole selves and to ask, “What does this mean for me now?”
Many of you who listen are longstanding members of faith communities, so I’m sure much of what I’m saying sounds familiar. When we hear something groundbreaking, we have to invite it forward to break ground. Otherwise, it’s just a pithy catchphrase you’ll see on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt.
So how do we truly start to integrate those moments of clarity? How can we practice ongoing healing experiences and trust that we will encounter more without feeling burnt out, exhausted, drained, or disillusioned?
In the Restorative Grief model, we focus on the whole self – heart, mind, body, and spirit. In order to support growth, healing, and integration in those four areas, we have to go beyond the traditional expectations of grief work. The expectations of platitudes and time working together to revive hope only serve to undermine the real knowledge we gain about ourselves and our place in this world.
When you start to talk to yourself about loss, or listen to a show like this, you’re gaining information. Put another way, you’ve given yourself permission to take a look at your life. To gain a line of sight toward the pain points and areas of grief in your experience.
And for many, that’s enough. Simply noticing what hurts activates the automatic process of either shutting it down and compartmentalizing, or it activates the automatic process of making a different decision to try and affect change.
But if we want to be intentional about our healing and answer the question of the day, then we need to slow down our immediate responses to become active participants in the process. Once we gain a line of sight, we can choose to look for insight. This insight can come from internal or external sources, but it will always be a nugget of wisdom that speaks to the place we are now and the way we can travel to the place we want to be.
And again, this is enough for many people. Insight and knowing that solutions exist for healthy nutrition, for example, is enough to make them feel better about the way they’re showing up for their bodies as they choose foods.
But if we want to make something new with our insight, we have to become intentional with our actions. This is where we start asking for tools and sustainable support practices in response to our insights. If we know we can see a nutrition deficit in our lives, and we determine that experts exist in that area, we may as well lean into those experts for support, right?
This might be the one place people trip up the most. We all want to feel differently and more integrated with our healing process. But most people get to this point of vulnerability, where help and support from an external source is needed and stop. It’s not that we aren’t interested in growth. Think about any accounts you might follow on social media that work to inspire their audiences to be healthier, happier, shorter, taller, whatever – they’re influencers trying to help improve your lives but also to make a living. They offer a paid product, but maybe you’re just lurking. You’re not interested in committing for any number of reasons.
Again, that’s fine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cut the number of my follows in half because of the noise. I followed so many accounts that had a tool or technique for my situation but for whatever reason, I never became intentional with their support.
It’s the same with grief. We know we have to be intentional and make a different choice, but we’re scared. Maybe we’re not sure we can financially afford to support ourselves; maybe we don’t feel worthy of such an investment.
But until we become intentional, we will always see our hope and healing as just out of reach. A cool idea for other people, but something not quite right for me. We will reinforce the rigid barriers allowing us to justify the lack of investment in ourselves. We will find ways to explain how such ideas or techniques could never work for us because our pain is too unique.
And it’s true – our pain is unique to us.
And that’s 100% why our own line of sight, personal insight, and decision to act on our own behalf is what leads to our new experiences of healing. We are the only ones who know what will or won’t support our growth, because we are individuals who experience our internal lives like no one else can.
It’s those moments of vulnerability with OURSELVES that leads us into action and ultimately, healing. Because we’re not trying to act to resolve and recover from grief. We’re trying to act to experience something different. To find what feels good, what feels right, what feels like security and ultimately, like hope. And while you may have been lied to and told otherwise by yourself or another person, I’m here today to tell you this one thing is very true for everyone – even you: Healing is your right, and it is entirely possible for you to feel differently as you grieve.
Thank you for listening to episode 76 of Restorative Grief. This conversation is extremely personal to me. About a year after my mom died, I distinctly remember wondering if I would ever feel better. If my grief would ever lighten, shift, change, or even resolve. But just the other night, on my way home from yoga class, I burst into tears wondering how different my life would be if my mom hadn’t died in the first place.
For some, that might sound like unresolved grief. Like hopelessness. Like fear. But for me, it was just honesty. It was a vulnerability for myself to admit that what I was experiencing in this moment might be connected to an area of my loss I haven’t yet addressed. It’s been over 7 years since she died, and there are moments to this day that I find myself healing and yet still finding new areas of healing as well.
So more than anything, I want to remind you not to give up. Please stay here. Please stay on this earth, in this place of honesty, and available to people in your life who might come along to help you uncover the sight or insight you need to finally become intentional for yourself, too.
If this is your first time listening to Restorative Grief, I hope you feel something stirring inside. Grief work is difficult, but not impossible, because you’re not doing it alone – no matter what you think. If you’re interested in a larger community of people to talk about loss and grief, consider joining The Restorative Grief Project, which is my free online coaching group or become a Patron of the show to join our monthly live chats on Discord. The links for both of those and more are in the show notes, or you can always come find me on social media under @MandyCapehart. I’d love to hear from you and hopefully, learn a little more about who you are and what you’re experiencing in your grief story, too.
And as always, one last thing. Please remember, the only solution for grief is to do the work of grieving. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.
Links + Resources for this episode:
- Learn about how mindset can help your healing process
- Work with Mandy
- Become a Patron of the show!
- Join the Restorative Grief Project
- Purchase my book, Restorative Grief
- Follow & chat with me on Twitter or Instagram @MandyCapehart