Scabs and Justice
Nothing heals the wounds of loss. As Rose Kennedy famously supposed, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” As anyone who has lost someone close can attest, these words ring devastatingly true.
There is nothing to be gained by picking at the scab covering the wound. To willfully go back in time in your head to the horrible end is nothing but masochistic. There is nothing cathartic about it. No therapeutic healing is to be found. It involves only pain and prevents the wound from ever scabbing over.
However, it should be noted that not picking at the scab does not equate to compartmentalizing the loss and never dealing with it. Putting the loss aside and not addressing it emotionally is a recipe for future heartache compounded by the loss of time one could have used to help those around them feeling the loss cope better. In short, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
I’ve found that the emotions below the surface ooze out like so much pus and burn without warning, whether you are prepared for it or not. While the path to emotional health is anything but linear, it does afford me the knowledge that I’ve faced these various phases of loss before, usually many times before. If I am angry that my wife died, I know I’ve been angry at this before and at some point (and usually in spite of whatever actions I take), I get past it. The anger is real and immediate, consuming all other emotions, but it does ebb. It usually trades places with overwhelming sadness as bitter tasting as when the original loss took place. The anger I felt in my chest gives way to a burning I can taste. And again, all of these changes in emotion occur without my picking at the scab; they just occur without warning and are all consuming.
Sandy Phillips, the mother of one of the victims of the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, said in a television interview regarding the ultimate verdict of the then ongoing murder trial of the monster responsible that there could never be justice because justice would involve bringing back her daughter. How that resonates with me now. There can be no justice. And further, just as in Sandy’s case, there is neither justification nor rationality for the loss. Had my wife known she was going to die in order to provide a definitive cure for cancer she would have gladly given her life. However, in spite of her participation in countless clinical trials, none has proven to be the effective cure doctors had hoped for. Each waiver she signed contained language explaining that while it was hoped that there would be a medical breakthrough relating to the clinical trial, she should not expect to be the recipient of that breakthrough. She signed every time without hesitation. But that does not bring justice, justification, or rationality for her loss. The finality of death is non-negotiable and only leads to unsettling silence in the house occasionally drowned out by the din of me screaming in my head. There is no justice. There is no justification. There is no rationality. There is only loss, emotion and scars, barely scabbed over.