Have you ever wished there was a time when you could go back and change the past?
Although thinking about painful situations can be difficult, it’s an important step in the goal of aging well. As someone on the Sharing Culture website said
Healing means to be or make whole. To put together the broken or damaged bits so that one can feel good again and be more resilient in the future. Healing often is painful as a process but results in learning more about myself and what I need to be well in myself.
My painful situation was the four years I spent as the primary caretaker for my husband while he struggled with dementia. I regret not being kinder, gentler, and more patient with him and with me during that time.
The words from an article written by Matt Frasier, the well-known psychic medium, were a starting place for me in the healing process.
My regrets had to do with the illness of a loved one, but regrets come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe his words will be helpful in healing your regrets as well - whatever they may be.
Frasier explained that “healing begins with acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go.” He suggested that rather than thinking about the traditional meaning of the words, to think about how they can help people feel better and allow themselves to live happier lives.
Acceptance: It’s not healthy to dwell on a past situation but it is healthy to learn from it and make appropriate life changes.
I had a difficult time accepting my husband’s illness and death. I was more focused on helping him live than on helping him be. My learning was to have been better prepared so that I could have taken better care of him. My appropriate change is to write this newsletter and share my experience with others, so they don’t make similar choices and decisions.
Matt says if you have a hard time accepting the passing of a loved one, remember that acceptance doesn’t mean you’re okay with what happened. It just means you accept that he or she is gone.
There is no choice - he isn’t here. There is no one with whom to share my hopes and dreams, no one to hold, and no one to live my life with.
Forgiveness: It’s not only about forgiving others, but it is also about forgiving you. When the past brings back difficult memories, replacing them with happier ones can be healing.
Having control of your thoughts can help with forgiveness, as well. Think of it as a gift to yourself. No matter the situation, forgiveness can allow you to let go of hurt, pain, and suffering.
To me, it isn’t so much about forgiving. He couldn’t help himself. My goal was for him to have the best quality of life he could given the circumstances and I did. It’s about wishing that I had been capable of doing more, knowing more, being more understanding, and having more tools to help ease his journey.
Letting Go: This means allowing one’s heart to let go of the pain, sadness and hurt but more importantly to hold on to the lessons learned. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting about the person or the situation, but deciding to let go of the painful emotions around it and allowing the heart to be at peace. It’s a big step because you begin to let go of sadness and invite happiness into your life.
This is what I am working on – letting go of the deep sadness and allowing the happiness in.
Matt offers several suggestions for accepting, forgiving, and letting go. His first suggestion is to write a letter expressing your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Then, let it go in the wind, cut it into pieces, or burn it.
His second suggestion focuses on how you hold yourself back from doing so many things and how you can take back your lives by mapping out life goals and having an action plan. For example, think of what you want most in life and create a vision board or write it down.
The third suggestion is to believe in and encourage yourself. Healing is a way of life. Take a class, start exercising, or find an activity to help lift your spirits.
Finally, after accepting that you can’t change the past, take a step forward and make someone’s day with a kind word. Tell those around you how deeply you care about them. Hold doors open and smile often. Doing positive things for others will lift and heal you.
My healing includes writing this newsletter, remembering the good times, including memories of him in conversations, and having pictures of him in every room.
There is a fourth factor involved, though, and that is whether you are willful or willing. Willfulness is being stubborn and inflexible about getting what you want. It means not caring about possibilities and trying to bend reality to your will. Willingness is accepting where you are, doing what it takes to change, and taking all that life throws at you.
The willingness to heal involves accepting what is now true, forgiving one’s self and others when that helps, and letting go of the painful, hurtful feelings.
So, yes, I have regrets. Yes, I wish things were different and, yes, I was quite willful. However, I want to age well – so I am willing to heal: to accept, to forgive, and to let go.