Chances are, if you were drawn to the title of this blog, you know the definition of the word “anguish” all too well. You know it isn’t like “sadness” or “depression”; Anguish is nothing like “disappointment” or “sorrow” nor even, on its own, “grief.”
Anguish is when you are ripped open, body and soul, and metaphorically bleeding on the floor without the strength to even lift up your head.
Anguish is when it hurts so bad you are freefalling at light speed through pitch black tunnel, no idea if you will ever hit bottom – and unsure if there even is one.
It hurts so bad that there are no words for it in English. “Anguish” – our most extreme word for sadness – will not even cover the extent of your hurt.
- For me, I fell into anguish when both of my children died in a car accident in 1991.
- I met a soul-beautiful woman today who shared that her newborn son died years ago. She also knows anguish.
- A man told me that he is grieving the recent death of his beloved wife – a woman who had spent her life grieving the death of her mother, who died in a car accident when she was only 12. They know anguish.
If you are in anguish right now, you may be asking, “When will this end?”
Here’s the truth: it’s unsustainable. The human body cannot endure much anguish. It will pass of its own accord. It may be days, months or even years of recurring anguish, but someday, you’ll get through 12 waking hours without feeling like you’re being crunched to death in the back of a garbage truck.
Which is not to say, “Time Heals.” It doesn’t. It just gives you the coping skills to do the basic things that must be done. What happens in addition to that – whether you find a way to be happy again, to thrive, to engage with the world and yourself – even while you wrestle with the pain — that’s up to you.
If you want to really heal, you’ll need to talk to someone – a counselor, a coach, a therapist; or read some inspirational books on your particular source of anguish; or spend time meditating, praying, reading spiritual books, or talking to people in your faith tradition who won’t judge you or set a time limit on your healing process. (Drugs, alcohol and other addictions slow the process of healing down, by the way. Not my opinion – actual fact.)
Yes, you’ll go backwards – back into the depths of anguish – and forward where you’ll catch yourself feeling strong at 3:19 PM on a Tuesday and think, “Hey! It’s been an hour since I was writhing in agony!” Savor the victories. Maybe even write them down, if you can. Chart your progress – it’s worth noting.
But your anguish will pass.
This terrible time will subside and your life will be worth living again, somehow, someday. Anguish will change you forever. It will make you more compassionate with yourself and maybe others; it will teach you to enjoy your life while you’re still breathing; it will give you keen insight into human nature; it may even lead you to a more beautiful, peaceful place than you have ever known.
Wishing you peace… — Wendy