“Never mistake motion for action.”-Ernest Hemingway
Grievers are often encouraged to “move forward” after a loss. Such societal pressure may leave grievers feeling stalled and stuck if they don’t “move forward” quickly and surely. The result can be a sense of hopelessness, depression, or anxiety that takes root in the griever’s life.
Forward motion, however, may be nothing more than watching days pass on the calendar or continuing on with the same job and schedule as usual. Forward motion does not bring healing, peace, clarity, or come with a sense of ambition for the future. Forward motion carries us down the road but neither gives grievers a goal, nor endows their journey with any sense of purpose.
Rather than “moving forward,” let us focus on healing with intention. Healing in order to productively live in grief means to be thoughtful about the steps grievers take in their new life; it means to put together a plan of action that can lift grievers out of despair and into a livable sadness, one in which the griever has goals for their new life after loss.
Healing requires active participation on the part of the griever. The saying “time heals all wounds” leaves us with a passive appreciation for the healing process: healing will happen by itself, grievers don’t need to invest themselves in the process. Time may heal, yes, but that passive healing may set us in a course that is not right for us, and much like a bone that sets without proper support, perhaps we will need to be broken again to set ourselves correctly.
Thought, intention, and action are needed to adapt and integrate grievers into their new life after loss. Grievers must plan and prioritize their steps, and may need to go in circles again and again to find the right action that moves life toward a goal and out of a rut. Forward motion is easy but unfulfilling; action is difficult and tiring, yet rewarding in the long run.
Let us not, then, mistake forward motion for the active participation required for the healing process.
How can you take action to heal this week?