I was walking along the beach, letting the cool waters of Lake Superior wash over my bare feet. I was at this same beach a year ago, trying to get through the anniversary of my daughter’s death. The quote “time heals all wounds” keeps circling around in my head.
It’s not true, but let me explain why.
The distance between me and the tragedy of that warm August evening is lengthening. The wounds are just as deep, the pain may be less acute but still taking my breath away.
Time doesn’t heal our pain, but it gives an opportunity for us to become accustomed to it. We learn to live with it, manage it, persevere through it. And the key to all healing is that we learn to rely on Christ to carry us through it.
Rose Fritzgerald Kennedy says it better.
“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.”
Does Time Really Heal All Wounds?
We’ve all heard this expression and maybe you’ve even said it. So, where does the “time heals all wounds” quote come from?
According to Grammarist.com “The phrase time heals all wounds may be first attributed to the Greek poet Menander, who lived around 300 B.C. and said, “Time is the healer of all necessary evils.” Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, Troilus and Criseyde, written in the 1380s contains the phrase: “As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure.”
I don’t know if our Greek poet was referring to grief or disappointment or betrayal when he mentions “necessary evils” and perhaps he had lived to an age in which he was at peace with the hurt in his life, but 4 years after my daughter’s death I have to say that his theory is not true.
Time Heals All Wounds Meaning
So, what does “time heals all wounds” even mean?
It is used to encourage people that feelings of pain, sorrow, disappointment etc. gradually go away with time.
I think for most of us the pain does lessen, but not because time has healed us. We are not meant to live in these dark seasons of the soul permanently. They are only seasons. This is something I learned when I struggled with feeling guilty over feelings of happiness. How could I be happy when my daughter was buried in the ground? (See “A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance: To Everything there is a Season”)
Time Heals All Wounds Bible Verse
While you won’t find this quote in scripture, I do want to point the way to the truth about healing with these Bible verses.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name. (Psalm 147:3-4)
While the first half of these verses talk about God healing our broken hearts, I want to draw your attention to the fact that God numbers the stars and calls them by name.
The great God of Heaven, the Almighty, the I Am, creator of all, binds up your wounds. If you get anything from this post, I want you to understand that you are not alone.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3)
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
We commune with Christ in our suffering. Our wounds become his and he heals us. God heals all. No, he doesn’t take the pain away, but it is through that pain that we relate to him and those around us.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
I have a lot more to say about this! Check out “5 Inspiring Bible Stories about Healing Body, Mind, and Heart”
My Own Experience
As I’m writing this we are 9 days away from the four year anniversary of my Rebekah’s fatal accident. My heart aches, so does my head.
Rebekah was my sunshine. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a spit fire personality. She was tough, determined, and fearless. What I love most about her is that she loved big. Everyone was her friend, even if you weren’t.
She spent hours drawing me pictures, scribbled “I love you mom” in the steam on the bathroom mirror, and was my constant companion.
She was my only girl out of five kids and a part of me wants to be angry at her for leaving me to wade through all of this testosterone by myself.
Little things trigger memories. Painful memories like the warm August evening we lost her.
Reminders that there is a hole in my heart, our lives, and our family are all around me. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the good memories now make me smile rather than slap me in the face. I hold them close to my heart, wrap my arms around them, and share them whenever I get the chance.
Good memories like how she would run outside every morning and pick me strawberries from our little patch. Memories of her crawling into bed with me every night and putting her cold feet on my legs. Her smile was big and so was her heart.
She loved gymnastics and watching that petite frame of hers flip filled me with awe. A friend used to say “dynamite comes in small packages” and that fit my Rebekah so well.
These may be the ramblings of a grieving mama, but I know your heart feels the pain too. The deep ache that never goes away and simply becomes a part of who you are. The distracting thoughts when something triggers a memory and the tears come hot and fast leaving you powerless to stop them.
The moodiness from the constant reminder that you have loved and lost and will never hold your person again this side of heaven.
So, in the opinion of this grieving heart, time does not heal loss. Loss remains with you at every turn disguised as memories, aches, and feelings of emptiness.
We are not meant to live permanently in deep grief and so we adjust, learn to live with it in a way that it no longer controls us.
We grow and change because that’s what we do. Your grief will influence your decisions, make you stronger or bitter and angry ( the choice is yours) and in some ways, it will define you. I will never be the same. I have been hurt too deeply, the scars remain. Forever the mom of a child in heaven, I will be haunted by that hurt until the Lord calls me home. (See “Healing from Grief: Allowing Yourself to Grow”)
They Say Time Heals All Wounds: A Few More Quotes
The only way to live with the grief is by leaning into God’s peace. God heals all. It was too much for me to do on my own. I clung to this verse from Isaiah 43.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
May you find peace in His word and healing hand.
I’m going to end this with a few more quotes I found about grief. There is something comforting in joining with other broken hearts.
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” -Terry Pratchet (Perhaps this is why I write so much about my Rebekah).
“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief… as long as you make room for other things too.” – “Bubbles,” The Wire
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with It as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.”- George Eliot.
If you find comfort in quotes, check out this post by What’s Your Grief.
I’d like to hear your thoughts and experience with “time heals all wounds”. True or false? Share them in the comments below. We are in this together!