While usually one of you submits to me a relationship question to answer, today I’d like to address a burning question that has been on my mind for a while.
This summer, there was a stabbing in the village next to where I live. In this incident a father and a son were stabbed to death by a young adult the family had taken in two years ago and had loved like a son. The mother was severely injured and the daughter was physically unharmed. I have known this family for 14 years and the mother is one of my best friends. Everyone who knew the family and/or read about the tragedy has been emotionally affected. It was devastating news for all of us. I hope that the following article encourages not only my hope but also yours.
I have, as do a lot of you, many questions and thoughts surrounding this incident. The question that has been causing me the most distress is how can my friend and her daughter heal from such a traumatic event and their huge loss? How can all the surviving family members heal? Although I have some experience with grieving and loss of loved ones myself, what happened to my friend and her family seems incomparable.
While attending the memorial service for the husband and the son, my friend revealed to us all her resilience and whole-heartedness when she opened the circle for us to speak and share memories. She spoke first and said three things that touched me deeply. This is what I remember her saying.
“When I woke up at the hospital I didn’t wanted to live. I was surrounded by so much love and kindness from my friends and family who came to visit me and from the personnel at the hospital. There was an abundance of love that I have never before experienced in my life. It was this love and kindness that brought my life spirit back and I was able to make the decision to continue to be a mother for my daughter Rhiannon.
We as a family made a conscious decision to take John (name changed) in and everyone was on board, my husband and son included. I do not regret our decision. Things didn’t work out the way we expected, but it doesn’t mean that our decision was wrong.
I don’t want to get bitter.”
My friend remembered later, that she wanted especially to let young people know that what happened to her and her family was extremely unusual and is not how the world normally works.
To hear my friend express these thoughts and feelings has given me great comfort and hope for her healing. Having witnessed how many loving people surround her who care deeply for her and her family is reassuring as well. I will continue, like many others, to show her and her family my love and support. I will continue to be there for them in any way I can. This is what I can do, what we all can do as community. Together, we already have built a great web of support. Let’s continue to build it.
I believe that with her words my friend has set the compass for her healing path and all healing processes in general, i.e., feeling genuinely loved and cared for from the people around us is the first step to bringing our life spirits back when we’ve lost them. It is important to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions and we need to live with good intention. To this, I will add one more aspect that I have found to be crucial in my own healing process: being aware of our own inner wounds and limitations, feeling empathy for ourselves and others will help us to accept what is and enable us to forgive. Yes, learning how to grieve and taking the time to grieve is important and we all have to find our own best ways to grieve. Forgiveness, however, is paramount in the healing process and is often the most challenging to achieve.
My friend’s words reminded me that we never can know what others have experienced emotionally or physically unless they are able to tell us and that they need our love and kindness, no matter what. We all have our own wounds to heal from, some graver than others. Some wounds need further treatment in the form of therapy, bodywork, self-help groups, bereavement groups, medical treatment, medication, etc. Her words make me aware that the first and foremost remedy for healing is always love and kindness. They are also part of our basic relationship needs. Love and kindness was and still is the legacy of my friend’s family. May they all be able to heal completely.
If you have any relationship questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org