The Path of Healing ©2001
BySteven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D.
3972 Barranca Pkwy. J-221
Irvine, CA 92606
As Americans—and indeed as a world community—we are deeply touched, shocked, and forever changed by the tragic events of recent days. As we experience our deep pain and sorrow, we must also prepare to move forward with our lives, with our community, and with our country.
The healing process will take on many forms and be distinct for each one of us. As each of us progresses on our individual path of healing, it is so crucial for us to accept our path and that of others. The stages and time of our recovery and resilience will vary from person to person. True living includes the capacity to experience a deep sense of grief when faced with such overwhelming loss, as well as the capacity to experience a deep sense of joy at the gift of life. Moving forward does not diminish those who have been taken from us, but it does permit us to rebuild.
When experiencing a disaster, we generally recuperate by being with family and friends for support, nurturance, and connection. With disaster, the activities of everyday life seem unimportant and even trivial. We are experiencing disaster as a nation and many of us are reaching for the comfort of our emotional support systems and putting our life’s normal life’s activities on temporary hold and in perspective.
As we move forward in our recovery, we will begin
to slowly reintegrate the multiple and complex aspects of our lives. Just as each individual flight within the air traffic system increases
the complexity of the system, we, as individuals, will slowly add more and more
complexity into our lives as we restart and reestablish our own internal “air
While part of our initial and ongoing recovery is to
honor those who have perished or are missing, it is equally important to our
recovery to honor those who live on and who will remember those who were lost.
It has been said, “Death is that
stage of life when we live on in the memory of others.” Part of our recovery is to live on and carry the memories of those who we
lost with us.
As you recover in your own way and you want to experience joy, pleasure, fun, and laughter, remember that this is part of your natural healing process. Others around you may, in fact, be healing at a different rate. Be patient with all people with whom you have interactions. Respect the recovery of others and respect your own. Allow the humor and joy within you to emerge. Watch for opportunities to gently share your lighthearted moments with others. Being resilient, recovering, and adding pleasure back into life is indeed essential to the healing process.
When you are ready to laugh, allow yourself the freedom to do so. Your joy and laughter does not diminish the lives of others, but it does honor your life—and you’re living and remembering honors the lives of those who we lost.