I was talking to a client, a forty-six-year old woman — let’s call her Ellen — with two teenage children, a boy 16, and a girl 14. Her husband had died in a car accident a year earlier. She had come to see me because, now, one year after, she was still feeling the heavy grief of her sudden and shocking loss. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked, “why can’t I get over it? Everyone in my life thinks it’s time.” Ellen lives with a popular misconception and that is that grief, trauma, difficult experiences and the hurt of difficult relationships is something that at a certain time down the road goes poof, and with that the painful feelings and memories are gone. If remnants of terrible grief, like Ellen’s, still exist then popular wisdom (if we may even consider it wise) queires us as to why we are not over it. There is an answer of course, as to why people demand themselves to “Get Over It.” It’s because no one wants to feel pain, their own or another”s. But pain never leaves. I’m going to repeat this even though those reading now might say, “come on now, my hurt from my personal trauma or loss is gone, how can you say that?” My answer is that yes, you, with time, may have worked through your trauma, it may have receded into the background of your consciousness, it may no longer imminently remind you of the trouble you faced. But I maintain this: You cannot get over it! It still lives somewhere inside and that, dear reader, is a good thing. If we accept our pain, allow it to live, we become more human, aware of both the fragility and value of our lives. We develop compassion and empathy. We understand that as we grow and develop we fill a psychological repository of memory, emotions, experiences and behaviors that connect all of us. We learn that in this life there will always be something of difficult consequence that we will have to deal with, and that “getting over it,” is an impossible task.
What can we do to heal our loss and trauma? What can we do for emotions that we thought were over that arise seemingly out of nowhere? Do we fight ourselves, working hard to stuff feelings away with the handy phrase “get over it.” Or do we notice our losses, accept our pain, soothe it by having empathy for ourselves and others and allow for the natural process that will take our emotions into the background of our lives so that we can embrace the treasure of daily living?
Let us hear what you have to say about what I’ve written. Tell us your story of “Get over it.” Ask us your questions, interact with others on the site, and send some of your music our way. Music that may have soothed you when you were going through difficult times, knowing full well that exhorting yourself to get over it is not the way to go and may in fact create a paradox: “Get over it” may interfere with the process of healing.