People ask me how I'm doing, if things are better, and I realized that I'm coping better but healing is a whole other story.
Healing and coping, they really do mean different things.
We usually heal from a physical wound, but when we do, there is usually a scar that we have for all of our lives.
Coping is a mechanism that our brains use to overcome emotional pain, a hurt that wounds our hearts. We don't see it, but it is there revisiting us at moments we don't expect and causing us to spiral back down into pain.
Physical healing, for example, for a bone break, means that the two ends are reattached firmly back together, sometimes even stronger than it was before.
Coping is something that has to be done over and over again. We get better at it, but we can also backslide into grief, reassessing our loss and opening the wound in our hearts to re-injure ourselves and feeling that pain once again. It is an injury that we will feel for all of our lives.
But it can also make us stronger too.
We can learn from this pain, healing our hearts much like physical healing takes place. We can use the pain to help others, and in so doing, help ourselves. It is coping, but it is also healing. So much of our loss and pain manifests itself in physical symptoms, and we need to recover from those. We can't still be prostrate in bed for years after the death of our child (although we'd like to be). We can't ignore the daily tasks of taking care of other children, of providing clothing and shelter for them and ourselves, of moving forward in this world.
We have to pick ourselves up and take those first steps towards recovery. It won't happen steadily like a bone break, but it will happen.