How Long Does It Take To Heal?

Download audio file

Subscribe to the audio podcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

What's So Scary About The Truth

Merry Mattie
in a sack,
his eyes light up,
his arms go back.
Pixy laughter, sheer delight.
Adorable cherub…
good night, good night.
– Ruby Groom
Matt’s great-aunt

September 1987

Today is the first day of September, not very fall-like at all—the temperature is soaring. School starts next week, notebooks and glue are in short supply, and the awareness of changing seasons surrounds us. This is a time of reflection for me…memories of all the other times that school started since I became a mother twenty-two years ago. There is something very poignant about this year for me. It has been a little over a year since my son, Matthew, died, and it has been just a week since I saw my son, Mark, off for his first year of college at Duke University. Somewhere inside of me these two occurrences have collided, overlapping snapshots blurring my vision.

Thinking I was mostly healed after Matt’s death, this collision and the new feelings I have stunned me. “How long does it take to heal?” I ask myself over and over. I know Mark is starting on a great adventure and setting a course for his own life, and that delights me. Yet lurking somewhere is this fear, this “no name” fear. I am even afraid to say it. Will saying it make it true? “Will I lose Mark too?”

I find myself staring out windows, gazing into the distance, not really knowing what I am looking for. If I look far enough, what will I see? Perhaps the ending of an intricate and loving pattern of personalities and moments, of good times and bad. Maybe there is something new on the horizon that I want to identify. Whatever it is, it is not clear yet. So I keep on gazing, listening to all the sounds of my being. My heart says, “The healing isn’t done yet. Give yourself some more time. Patience.”

I know I am in the process of designing a new way of being that fits. Do you ever try to hold on to the illusion that everything is just the same as it was, long after it has changed? This year I have learned that the longer I hold on to the illusion, the longer the healing takes, like reopening a wound over and over. If I try to keep Matthew alive all day in my thoughts, somehow he always dies at night and I go through all the pain again. If I try to keep Mark safe forever, he’ll never realize his dreams.

One night as I lay looking at the stars and constellations brilliant overhead, I asked them for help. “Let me love Matthew as deeply as ever and let him go so I can heal.” In the morning, I awoke realizing I only see the stars in the darkness. The stars are there always, moving through time with us, surrounding us with their beauty and light and mystery. It takes the darkness to see their light. This majestic transformation I witness daily lets me know I am surrounded by love even when I don’t see it. Matt is like the stars.

And I realize now, it is not Matt that I want to release. He is a part of my life forever. It is my pain I choose to release.

How long does it take to heal? Perhaps it is time to let go of the question. Thank you for moving through time with me. Even when I don’t see you, I know you are there. Just like the stars.

1. Who have you loved and lost, to death or the end of a relationship?

2. How did this ending affect you?

3. How long did it take you to heal? Have you?

4. Who are your best role models for telling the truth? What is it you most admire about them?

I encourage you to share your responses to the reflection questions in the comments section.

With love and gratitude,
Kris King

| More

4 Responses to “How Long Does It Take To Heal?”

  1. Farouk says:

    i understand how this feels dear and those mixed feelings are completely normal but i am sure you will get to understand them more and you will get rid of them gradually as the time passes, wish you all the best:)

  2. Lisa says:

    I have been working on developing a relationship with myself. As I listened to the podcast all I can think about is how I have not allowed myself to live the life that I want. Instead I spent time being “safe” and allowing my life to be dictated by others, instead of living which is what I ultimately want to do. Allowing myself to be adventurous and free was a task.and very, painful, so with that I have lost a sense of myself.

    Today and after completing PES, I am learning to let go of the fear and I am learning to live the life that I want. I realize that it takes time to heal~however, it is amazing how long I have avoided it. Walking through life asleep is no longer a part of the process. Instead I choose to live in the moment and in source! Thank You Kris…..

  3. t is amazing that this podcast came on my computer tonight. I was hoping you Kris could answer my question how long does it take to heal? I feel the joy when I am open to communicating with my children about the joys their father brought to their lives and focus on what he gave to us all rather than the negativity of the loss and my own pain.
    I am letting go and forgiving myself for the way my husband died and that I was not home for my children when he died. I am learning I am a beginner and each and every day is a new day to treasure. Truly a life of gratitude and growth is what Jim would have wanted for me. I know Jim spirit will fill the room Sunday night when I graduate from lifeworks.
    Thank you so much, Kris, for sharing your life’s experiences with us!

    • I too am amzed at this podcast and it’s timing. I lost my mother the first of the month and I struggle witht the loss and grief every day. At the celebration of life service a bird landed in a bush in front of the table holding my mom’s ashes. It carefully looked all around and flew off after a minute and a beautiful leaf fell from the bush and floated to the ground. I remembered that the tree of life not only blooms new leaves but leaves fall just as souls leave our tree of life.
      My mother wanted me to be strong and live my life to the fullest with as much passion as I can possess. Every day now I find a small passion in my life and honor it with a blessing of acknowledgement , knowing she too shines on me every day, as she is a part of my being. and passion.

      Patty Wolfard