01 Aug The Ebb and Flow of Healing
is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.
“The Ebb and Flow of Healing”
Albert Schweitzer once shared a poignant old tale with the late Reverend Robert Schuller about a flock of geese that had gathered on a pond. When the time arrived for these geese to fly away they lifted into the air, circled the pond, and waited for their last member to join them before departing.
However, there was one goose who was unable to fly. His wing feathers had been cruelly clipped and he was not able to join them in flight so the flock landed back down and patiently waited.
Several days went by and once again the flock repeated their routine and attempted to leave. But not enough time had passed for the injured goose’s feathers to grow back and he was still unable to fly. So once more, the flock settled down to wait until this member of their flock was ready. Months passed until the day finally arrived when the goose with the clipped wings could fly again and they all flew away together.
Apparently, humans aren’t the only ones to recognize that healing is an ebb and flow process which requires time and patience.
This sensitive topic is worth pondering because the older we get, the more losses we experience. And loss shows up in our lives in many different ways, doesn’t it? Whether it’s mourning the loss of a mate or loved one, loss of a job or career because of retirement, loss of a pet, loss of our home and neighborhood, or the loss of a relationship due to a breakup, we often wonder what the best thing is to say or not say in order to comfort others. We also wonder how much right we have to lean on family or friends for support if we are the one experiencing the grief or sadness.
Emotional Symptoms of Grief
The pain of grief has often been described as a roller coaster process because it can often carry with it so many emotional highs and lows. Grief is actually a natural response to loss, and in many cases, extreme loneliness. Many years ago, psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced five stages of grief to us to describe this mourning process. These stages do not necessarily apply to every person nor do they necessarily appear in any particular sequence.
The five stages of grief, as identified by Dr. Kubler-Ross, are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
If friends or family members happen to turn to us to seek out comfort, it is important for us to give them our loving support by allowing them to speak freely about their emotions of sadness or grief, as well as their personal perspective about their life. And in case we suspect clinical depression, we might gently suggest that they contact a therapist or grief counselor because if left untreated, profound grief can often lead to serious physical illness or suicide.
And if it happens to be us who is coping with sadness due to a pervasive loss, a professional therapist or support group might also help us work through our recovery. As a general rule, recovery often takes time and there may be moments when it is difficult to numb the pain. So this may be a time to turn to family and friends who care about us for loving comfort. It is not a time to isolate ourselves from people who want to show outreach and support because it’s important for us to express our feelings by talking or journaling so we don’t keep toxic emotions pent up.
Healing is indeed an ebb and flow process which requires time and patience. It can be a slow unpredictable process of weaving in and out of different stages of recovery, sometimes without any clear timetable. But friends and family wait patiently and compassionately until the day finally arrives when feathers have grown back naturally and one can fly again.