“I’d been feeling sorry for myself, which is about the most useless thing you can feel: it doesn’t do a damned thing for you. You don’t feel any better, you don’t get any better, and you’re too busy moping to do anything to actually make your life any better. There’s a reason the old folks call it stewing in your own juices. That’s all that goes on – you just soak in the pain.”
– Harry Dresden, The Law
From The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
To be clear, Harry mentions scarcely a moment later that it’s OK to hurt, just not OK to let that hurt stop him from helping the people who need him. That, however, is something I will want to go into in-depth another time. This quote is a little more general, and a little more pointed as well.
Harry, narrating the entire story, says this in the wake of a most terrible and devastating loss. No one can fault him for being in the kind of pain he’s in, for feeling the agony that tries to drag him into the living nightmare of a waking memory every single moment of every single day. But what he describes is very real and very dangerous to everyone.
We all suffer from sorrow, from pain, from loss. No one goes through life without knowing pain. We all take injuries to our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls. We all need time to heal from every such injury. But healing the body often involves getting up and doing things, such as physical therapy, rather than just lying there and feeling the pain. So it is with healing our sorrows: we can’t just sit and stew in them forever. That’s not healthy.
Somehow, some way, sometime – and the sooner, the better – we have to do more than simply sit in our pain.
That doesn’t mean we have to stop hurting. That doesn’t mean we have to stop feeling. And it certainly doesn’t mean we have to leave behind the love we have for those we have lost. It just means that we can’t let it stop us.
It may not be easy, and it may not be painless – physical therapy often involves pushing oneself, and so do other kinds of healing – but it must be done.
We don’t have to be all right all at once. We don’t have to be not in pain in order to be able to smile again.
But we do have to get back up and move forward, else we will never heal at all, and our sorrow drown us forever.