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The Importance of What We Do in Our Time

grief grief support sibling loss Mar 15, 2022
Two smiling people.

By Kim English Hanlon

I'm laying here snuggling my kid and thinking of time, and how to make the most of it. How to make the most of it, mindfully. How can I practice being in the moment, true to myself and aware of where I am, who I am with, and what I am doing? It is not time itself that matters, but what you do in that time.

It is so easy to rush. It is so easy to think you have more time, or another opportunity. It is so easy to think that time together in itself is enough.

But what about what doesn’t happen in that time? The “I love you” that you figure you will express next time. The time truly connecting, not just sharing space and air? What if you take time to truly know what you are feeling, and connect that with what those around you are experiencing as well?

It is not time itself that matters, but what you do in that time.

Ilana and I teach this concept as Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialists as it applies to grief. When you experience a loss, it is what you do in the time after that can help you heal (or not) - time itself does not heal. Time heals no wounds if you just lay there.

Sure, if you got a nasty cut your body might find a way to heal on its own. You may have scab and then a scar, and pain as each of these develop and heal.

Innately, our bodies know how to heal. Our hearts also know how to heal.

But what if our whole lives we were taught to ignore the pain of a cut finger? Don’t put a band-aid, don't stop the bleeding- just keep going as if the cut never happened? What if we did nothing to prevent infection or mend the wound?

What if what we were taught to do when we were hurt was WRONG? What if our actions, in the end, caused more damage, or more hurt, or longer healing times?

If we get stitches or use ointment to prevent infection, or have medicine we may heal more wholey and functional than if we had suppressed the pain and ignored it. If we allow ourselves to rest the injured parts, we heal faster. Similarly, if we allow our hearts to heal and if we trust that we can heal, we prevent unnecessary additional heartbreak.

To further illustrate this, I will share a story. I sprained my ankle in 2009. An incorrect diagnosis of my type of sprain and insufficient resting on my end resulted in a much worse injury. Eventually, my doctor told me to stay in bed for weeks, after which I had to learn to walk again! During this time I was unable to go to work, which added more stress to a difficult time. It also took me two years for my ankle to not hurt if I was on it for more than ten minutes. 

What if I hadn’t been embarrassed to ask for proper support from professionals? What if I resisted the urge to get on with life, and refused to push through the pain? I likely would have healed in a few weeks, not years.

Our hearts work similarly in these ways. It is what we do in time, not time itself. And sometimes our hearts know what to do to heal, and we ignore those things. We push through and continue with normal life - just as I walked a mile on a sprained ankle so I could still get lunch with a friend from out of town. I could have asked for a rain check or a restaurant closer to home, but I limped on. 

After my brother died, I also “limped” on. I went back to work 5 days later. I cried any moment I was alone, but I was physically at work. My heart felt maimed for years. I tried to do what was right for it, but I needed help I wasn’t getting. 

Sometimes in that time, it is not just what we do, but what others can help us do. Sure, maybe there are a few people who can stitch up their own cuts, but a plastic surgeon will likely do a much better job. Sometimes we need an outside perspective or guidance from someone who has stitched up many hearts. From someone who has the knowledge on that healing that will help your heart heal more wholly and less scarred than if you tried to sew up the wound yourself.

And sometimes we rush so much in life that we cause harm to our hearts and others without even knowing it. By not being present, we can risk connection. And without connection our hearts hurt.

We are social beings and need connection to thrive. Not just live- thrive.

So pause for a moment and reflect.

  • How are you using your time?
  • How can you slow down to listen to what your heart needs at this moment?

Take time to connect with others, and to connect with the moment. Don't just spend time, but know what you are getting for the investment. Avoid just blindly going along for the ride.

And if you need help, it is ok to ask for support with your heart.