Does time really heal all wounds?

As a child, I remember the first time I went to a wake service with my mother for a neighbor who had passed away. I remember being so frightened as I walked into the funeral chapel. I vividly recall so many people crying and feeling as though I would somehow get swallowed up by the sadness surrounding me. At the time, I was about 11 years old, and I sat with other children in the rear of the chapel, afraid to move. I remember the relief I experienced when my mother said it was time to leave.

As my mother and I walked home, I asked if all those sad people would be happy again. She said: “Well, time heals all wounds.” I did not know what that meant then, and even today, I have several questions about that famous saying. Does time make it better? Does time remove the pain and scars? Does time help me to feel better? Does time erase the pain and sadness that continue to wash over me? Does time heal all wounds?

One answer that I find most interesting to that question came from the late Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy clan. A strong woman and mother who raised an exceptional family and witnessed the horror of two sons assassinated and another killed during the war. She was the rock that kept her family together despite the atrocities she saw that would have crippled most people.

When asked if time heals all wounds, Rose Kennedy succinctly said, “I don’t agree.”  She said, “In time, the mind, in protecting its sanity, covers itself with scar tissues that lessen the pain but never goes away.”  I believe she was eloquently describing grief and how despite time, it never goes away; but with time, I learn how to cope with it and accept it as a part of my life.

In less than a week, I will celebrate the third anniversary of my wife’s death. When asked by friends what I would do, I said; I was going to my Episcopal church and will remember her at mass on that day. I will then have lunch with my friends and probably go to the park, find a bench, and enjoy nature. It gives me peace and comfort. Yes, I know it may be a tough day, but it’s also a day to recall all that I am grateful for and all I learned from my wife. I cannot erase what happened; I cannot turn back the clock; I cannot live in the past, but I can celebrate her life by living my life with joy and passion. As I heard someone recently say, the runway in front of me is much shorter than the one behind me. It’s ok to have tears and joy, laughs and sorrow, good times and challenging times because it’s what made my past life, and it’s probably what my new life will have.

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