Here is a thought of mine for the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. (Cross posted on my work’s blog – https://www.wilfcampus.org/shavout/)
belief, chaplain, chaplaincy, death, death and dying, death awareness, fear of death, grief, grief and loss, grief work, Immortality, intimations of immortality, pastoral care, psychology and religion, religion, spiritual care, Stephen Cave, TEDtalk
When did you first realize you were going to die? This is the opening question in a TedTalk from 2013 called 4 Stories we tell ourselves about Death. (As an aside, and maybe something I should have known, there is a transcript for this talk available, from which I am taking the block quotes). In this talk, Stephen Cave, author of the book Immortality, reflects on how people have created stories about our immortality. His premise is:
Just as there was a point in your development as a child when your sense of self and of time became sophisticated enough for you to realize you were mortal, so at some point in the evolution of our species, some early human’s sense of self and of time became sophisticated enough for them to become the first human to realize, “I’m going to die.” This is, if you like, our curse. It’s the price we pay for being so damn clever. We have to live in the knowledge that the worst thing that can possibly happen one day surely will, the end of all our projects, our hopes, our dreams, of our individual world. We each live in the shadow of a personal apocalypse.
We live with a conscious and often unconscious fear of death. The fear is something that can either hinder us or it can perhaps be a motivator for how we choose to live.
In analyzing this fear of death, Cave suggests that the stories we have developed for our lives are all bias driven. Regarding this bias, He suggests:
Now, the theory behind this bias in the over 400 studies is called terror management theory, and the idea is simple. It’s just this. We develop our worldviews, that is, the stories we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it, in order to help us manage the terror of death. And these immortality stories have thousands of different manifestations, but I believe that behind the apparent diversity there are actually just four basic forms that these immortality stories can take. And we can see them repeating themselves throughout history, just with slight variations to reflect the vocabulary of the day.
The four stories he describes and critiques are:
Instead, Cave presents a different model for understanding life and death. He pictures life the story within a book.
Now, I find it helps to see life as being like a book: Just as a book is bounded by its covers, by beginning and end, so our lives are bounded by birth and death, and even though a book is limited by beginning and end, it can encompass distant landscapes, exotic figures, fantastic adventures. And even though a book is limited by beginning and end, the characters within it know no horizons. They only know the moments that make up their story, even when the book is closed. And so the characters of a book are not afraid of reaching the last page. Long John Silver is not afraid of you finishing your copy of “Treasure Island.” And so it should be with us. Imagine the book of your life, its covers, its beginning and end, and your birth and your death. You can only know the moments in between, the moments that make up your life. It makes no sense for you to fear what is outside of those covers, whether before your birth or after your death. And you needn’t worry how long the book is, or whether it’s a comic strip or an epic. The only thing that matters is that you make it a good story.
In other words, life is the story we live, not the before or after the story.
I am particularly taken by this metaphor. None of us can know when the book will end. We can only keep building the story that is in the book of our lives. We cannot allow the fear of the book ending be the driving force of how we live. However, we can also not just let the book tell the story. We must work to write the story.
While I do not remember when I first recognized my mortality, I also know that there is a value in death awareness, not to detriment of living life, but to enhance how we live the life we have. Death awareness is a foundational element of chaplaincy/spiritual care training. It is the lesson that helps us be present to witness the death of others. It is a lesson about accepting and acknowledging one’s own fears.
clergy, COVID-19, crisis, pastoral care, Pastoral crash, pastoral crisis, pitfalls of leadership, religion, self care, self reflection, spiritual care, spiritual crisis, spirituality, the coming pastoral crash
The Coming Pastoral Crash presents a very challenging, and quite frankly scary, perspective on how clergy will find real struggle resulting from the ongoing stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. Before looking at some of the author’s points, I have heard and seen many of the same from colleagues and in many ways in my own work/life imbalance during this time. I think regardless of how one serves others, whether as a congregational clergyperson or as a chaplain, many of these points really stick out.
In grief support and counseling, we always remind people never to make rash decisions in the midst of crisis. I believe the same to exist during these times. Yet, I am sure many questions are arising in the minds of colleagues. Is this what we signed up for? Do we have the will and desire to continue helping others? Would there be something else we would be happy to do? These questions and others I feel are summed up well in the following:
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Baptist “Prince of Preachers,” once told his students that if they could be happy doing something besides ministry, they should do it. I’m sure there were several reasons why Spurgeon gave this advice. But the reason his advice makes sense to me is because…
Being a pastor is hard.On the Rise and Fall of Pastors
Similarly, there is a comment in Ethics of Our Fathers (1:10)
Shemaiah and Abtalion received [the oral tradition] from them. Shemaiah used to say: love work, hate acting the superior (literally rabbinate), and do not attempt to draw near to the ruling authority.https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.1.10?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
Of course, these points exist even in normal times, to recognize the difficulties of serving others. How much more so during a crisis, especially one that has global ramifications. The author notes a multiplicity of areas that can potentially lead to the Crash. A few of these I have already alluded to and noted in previous posts this week. These areas are:
They are serving in ways for which they have no training or experience.
They are doing their best, but unable to keep it up.
They are worried about ministries that are unable to operate, and if they will be able to operate later.
They are exhausted. Less gathering does not equal less work.
They are not feeding their souls.
The future is cloudy.
The collapse of the job and financial markets impacts churches.
They are physically not healthy.
They have conformed to a 7 day schedule.
They are unwilling to take time off.
They do not seek out mental health.
They are in dangerous spiritual territory.
This list of items, described in the article, all point to a coming crashing point. As we reflect on these past few months, I think all of the uncertainty has had such a tremendous impact on how we function. It leads to mistakes, errors and frustrations over decisions we normally wouldn’t find ourselves making. While exhaustive, this list misses one more major point, namely the overwhelming loss from death and illness. When clergy have multiple members die in a short period of time, it is draining. During this pandemic, especially in the hot zones, this has become of primary concern. The constant pain of death will also take a major toll. Who will the helpers turn to if we are all in need of help?
The author offers a potential prescription for how to overcome or work through many of the above challenges so as to potentially avoid the crash. His two messages are:
Ministers must commit to ministering to their own hearts first.
Ministers must commit to look out for one another.
To combat crashing, one must take care of the self and make sure to be able to support others. We have to find new meaning in the work we do and more importantly, meaning in ourselves that transcends the work. We need to remember to insist on giving ourselves the permission to maintain our own health and wellbeing in small ways. We also need to look out for each other. He makes the point that in many ways only other clergy understand the particular challenges we face. I think this is a very true statement. Yet, I would also caution that seeking help from another in the same situation might result in a shift of who is giving and receiving the help at any one time.
In conclusion, without the mindfulness and recognition of our boundaries and limitations, we may very well be traveling into an abyss of pain and depression, crashing and being unable to continue to provide for others. As the marathon that is the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is incumbent to remember that slow and steady can and should be the mode of practice.
What does it mean to be resilient? How do we maintain ourselves in times of crisis? Much is being written on a regular basis on resilience during this pandemic and for the foreseeable future. In Army preaches resiliency to cope with pandemic, we are provided with a synopsis of how resilience is fostered in the military. Before offering what builds resilience, here is a reflection on the value of resilience:
“Resiliency is important because it equips people with a higher ability to cope with difficult situations,” Frederick said. “People with strong resilience can adjust to difficult and stressful events, and accelerate their return to normalcy.”
When we learn how to cultivate resilience, we can be better equipped to handle crisis and stress. To cultivate resilience “The Army outlines the road map to resiliency with five pillars of wellness: emotional wellness, physical wellness, spiritual wellness, family wellness and social wellness.”
Emotional wellness includes being able to recognize and manage your emotions in a constructive way. Managing emotional wellness can mean journaling feelings, practicing yoga or deep breathing to relax and reduce stress
Physical wellness includes choosing healthy and balanced meals, and getting regular exercise.
Spiritual wellness means finding meaning and purpose in life, and creating an awareness and unity with something greater then oneself.
While some people are spending more time with family and others are unable to see loved ones, family wellness remains vital to resiliency. During uncertain or trying times, friends and family can provide the love and encouragement needed to cope with difficult situations.
Frederick said another important factor in staying resilient is avoiding total isolation.
These five categories can provide a means of maintaining ourselves in a holistic manner. Inevitably, most of us will find balance and wellness in only certain aspects of life. The message here is to be mindful of creating balance in all areas of our lives. If we do this, we can maintain our resilient selves and weather most storms.
For other resources on resilience, see
communal practice, community, empowered judaism, havurah, prayer, religion, religion and spirituality, religion vs spirituality, religious practice, solitude, spirituality, synagogue, Tablet Magazine, william james
As we begin to grapple with the ramifications of reopening of faith based/religious institutions, it is incumbent upon each of us to evaluate the pluses and minuses of the experiences of being alone or connecting through virtual means. Basing myself on an article I recently read, The Trouble with ‘Solitude’ I would like to offer some thoughts both from the piece and from a self evaluation of being disconnected from others as it relates to communal practice.
In recent weeks, unable to be with my synagogue community, I have been thinking about James’ view of religion as inherently solitary. And I have decided that it’s total bunk. Religion, even highly personalized, idiosyncratic musings to oneself about the nature of the universe, is a highly social affair. It’s almost impossible to do alone.
I find myself in agreement with this comment if one presumes that the foil here is the word religion. Yet, in much of recent research literature, William James’ definition of religion, “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude … in relation to whatever they may consider the divine,” is more connected to how we define spirituality today. As a way to frame this, I will site one image that defines the similarities and differences between religion and spirituality.
Regardless, the author’s sentiment remains critical, as solitude is often not as conducive to spiritual growth and finding a deeper sense of meaning about the universe. We need others to push us, move us, prod us. We need others to laugh with, celebrate with and cry with. And yes, we can Zoom, but we hear again and again about how zoom isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, the efforts to keep communities connected through videoconferencing have been well received and for many have revived shrinking religious communities. Yet, as the author indicates:
In the past weeks, we have seen how bereft people are at having to bury loved ones with no funeral. Friends have postponed weddings, because that kind of covenant, commitment, or oath seems to require an audience. In Judaism, newborn boys are going without the traditional circumcision ceremony, which is not just a snip but a public snip, to which the entire community is supposed to be welcome (you don’t invite people to a bris; rather, you announce it, so anyone might come).
So much of how we connect is in physical presence. So much of how we find spirituality is from the connections with others in performing religious practice. Sure, we all desire times of solitude, but we want the solitude when we need it, not when it is forced. I would presume that the enforced nature of not being physically connected is part of the challenge.
Early on, I had posted on Facebook a question, what were my friends calling their at home prayer spaces. How did they define their synagogue away from synagogue? I must confess I never personally answered the question because I couldn’t find the right name that fit my mood. Even now, I am not sure there is one way to define the space. Yet, I think this practice was valuable as both a way to laugh a little at the forced change and also to find a way to acknowledge the reality placed before us.
Not to downplay the value of solitude, the author also describes:
Of course, “the more the merrier” is not always the best principle. Some spiritual work is best done away from the crowds. The great religions have recognized that certain people, on certain journeys, require solitude. Roman Catholics have an old tradition of hermits and the cloistered religious. In Judaism, the Hasidic master Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) taught his disciples hitbodedut, meditation as a private conversation with God, done in a quiet room or, best of all, in the woods or a field. Buddhist meditation, in its many forms, requires silence, a retreat from the cacophony of other people.
There is much to be said for the solitude. There is much to be said if one takes advantage of the quiet and is intentional. Yet, I think for most of us, neither extreme of only the communal or only the individual, is ideal. As the author concludes:
James was right to dethrone the church or the congregation as the sole approved guide to everyone’s spiritual journey. But he was wrong to say that solitude was the one true alternative. As for me, I want neither megachurch nor to be alone with my thoughts. All this enforced time with just my wife and children has reminded me that, sometimes, the family is the best unit of religious observance and reflection. To the Friday night Shabbat dinner, we have, under quarantine, added the Saturday night candle-lighting for Havdalah, or separation, the return to ordinary time after the Sabbath. The search for the divine in one’s own family, I am finding, beats the madness of crowds—and the maddening triviality of my own mind.
The idea of a smaller collective approach to spirituality, assuming the family is the collective, is appealing. Of course, if one is living alone, then there can only be solitude, which is beset with a myriad of other challenges. For me, I think I have not done well with seeing the family time in such a spiritual way, as I personally prefer being “alone” in my thoughts and in my spirituality. Yet, I continually wonder if many have found the family religious and spiritual oasis we have as a place of growth. And when we begin gathering as small groups, will the small groups be more meaningful and powerful than the large religious spaces we occupied before the pandemic.
In writing these words, I am most struck by how much this debate reminds me of the debates I have read about the founding of the Havurah movement in the late 1960s, early 1970s and the arguments presented in the 2010 book Empowered Judaism (and countless other sources). While not someone who offers predictions, I do wonder if there will be a period during the reopening of religious institutions where the ideas of creating smaller groups will be encouraged and if those groups will find ways to maintain connections even in a time when institutional life can return to “normal.”
What is the value of prayer? For a person of faith, this can seem like a non-starter question as the answer would often be that prayer is engaging in conversing with Gd. Yet, I think most of us continue to ask this question, even if the actions we take appear to express the implicit value of prayer. In our current world, this question has also found itself being engaged in by scientific research. While research in prayer is challenging as it relates to setting up controlled experiments and defining what prayer means, it is still an area of exploration.
Much has been spilled about the “power” of prayer as it seems like an elusive answer. There was a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, “The Science of Prayer” that engages some of the current scientific observations about the value prayer can offer in our lives. The timeliness of this piece is on display in the following reflection:
“There may still be some atheists in foxholes,” says Kenneth Pargament, a professor emeritus in the department of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who studies how people use religion to cope with major life stressors and trauma. “But the general trend is for the religious impulse to quicken in a time of crisis.”
A fundamental value of prayer is in how it can be a method we use to cope with trauma and crisis. One way Jewish communities express this practice is via the inclusion of the recitation of extra chapters of Psalms or other prayers outside of the formal prayer structure. While there is a hope and wish that the prayers result in a positive outcome, there is clearly an element of prayer that is most focused on the recognition about our not being in control. As an example:
“This is what prayer can do,” says Amy Wachholtz, associate professor and clinical health psychology director at the University of Colorado Denver, and lead researcher on the meditation study. “It lets you put down your burden mentally for a bit and rest.”
Prayer allows for a pause. It can also be seen as a means of connection to others, as in the following comment:
Prayer can also foster a sense of connection—with a higher power, your environment and other people, including “the generations of people who have prayed before you,” says Kevin Ladd, a psychologist and director of the Social Psychology of Religion Lab at Indiana University South Bend.
I think the idea of prayer as connection to others is something to emphasize in this moment of physical distancing and semi-isolation. Through prayer, we can find an approach of continued engagement with community even when we are not within the physical space of the others in our community. Regardless, as this piece expresses, prayer has multiple functionalities that are of value throughout life, during moments of crisis and moments of calm. Prayer is a method of self-care and communal connectivity.
burnout, chaplain, chaplaincy, compassion, COVID-19, disaster, Disaster Spiritual Care, ministry, pastoral care, psychology, self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-care, self-compassion, self-forgiveness, spiritual care
Like many, these past of couple of months have been full of ups and downs. There have been days of chaos, fear and anxiety coupled with days of purpose, connection and “victory.” Many a times these have lived together simultaneously. As I mentioned in the previous posts, much of the challenge is in recognizing what we have done, what we wish we could have done and what we failed to do, knowing that not completing the task does not have to be a failure. Nobody can accomplish everything. In writing these words I am reminded of the following from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 2:16:
He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it;
We must find a way for self-acceptance and self-forgiveness in recognizing our limits.
These thoughts come to mind in my rereading a reflection piece entitled “Lessons from Ministry in the Midst of a Disaster” by Rev. Matt Crebbin. In this piece, Rev. Crebbin describes 5 lessons he learned from his work as a minister after the school shooting in Sandy Hook Connecticut. The five lessons are with my summaries:
During this time of grappling with the short term and long term ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to maintain perspective. These five lessons are a very good tool to contemplate in grounding chaplains /spiritual care providers as we push and push each and every day.
Is chaplaincy finally finding a place in the public discussion or is that the news cycle merely needs more items to write about round out its constant need for new material? I hope it is the former and always remain skeptical enough to expect the latter. Nevertheless, it is important to reflect on what it means for chaplaincy to be profiled in multiple media outlets during the pandemic.
Chaplaincy is in a unique place because I think we find ourselves sitting on the fence of “essential” and non-essential employees. On the one hand, the physical care component of treating the virus is paramount, and with limitations in protective gear, it is very easy to limit the access of care to those who have to save physical life. Yet, in much of medicine today, there is a push to recognize the importance of holistic care, this making psychosocial and spiritual issues almost as important in caring for someone ill. And for psychosocial and spiritual care, approaches of tele-health, tele-support, can be relied upon when physical presence cannot be achieved. (I will plan to have more to say about the virtual visit and some of the innovations and challenges I foresee).
Chaplains are essential, yet I would suggest that the essential nature of our work hasn’t been fully seen just yet. I think the round one of remaining engaged in our professional settings is coming to an end and now will be the part of helping to pick up the pieces of our staffs, our colleagues, and each other. We have not experienced the wave of complicated grief that surely exists. With the death of a family member and the funeral/memorial service/shiva etc. fraught with so much loneliness, we can only imagine what the long term toll might be (another topic to go deeper into).
I want to draw your attention to one of many articles written about chaplains during COVID-19, “The Rise of the Chaplains,” by Wendy Cadge. In it, the author offers an overview of one element of chaplaincy,
In interviews I conducted with 65 chaplains across greater Boston, I discovered that the work they do around death is what most unifies them across sectors and distinguishes them from social workers and others they work alongside. It is not surprising, therefore, to read about chaplains running toward death rather than away from it in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
While I would suggest this might be a slight overstatement, I think her point is that chaplains can and will stand in challenging moments, being trained specifically to confront the emotional, spiritual, existential pain and suffering of others. It is something chaplains can offer in conjunction with the rest of the care.
At the end of the article, she circles back to the same point, stating:
Chaplains name death for individuals and organizations in our death-phobic society. They support the dying and their loved ones at the end of life. And they help us process and make sense of death in the immediate aftermath. The chaplains at the doors of ICU rooms are whispering prayers, connecting the ill to family members through FaceTime, and, when someone dies, supporting the next of kin by phone. Chaplains usually do this work quietly, around the margins. But with the pandemic, their work has moved to the center of the American religious experience.
As I wrote in last night’s post, while chaplains are doing so much, there may still remain a sense of inadequacy. I am most caught with the challenge of what it means to “work quietly, around the margins.” Perhaps the skepticism I raised at the beginning is that chaplains often don’t get the credit for the holy, sacred work we do. Perhaps deep down we wish to be seen as other healthcare professionals are seen. And yet, here we are, being shown to the world as an integral, core element of support during crisis, whether global like what we are currently living in, or the individual crisis of death and illness we confront daily.
I have finally decided to reemerge into the world of online writing. During this time of a global pandemic, I realize that perhaps I should add my voice into the mix. By adding my voice I mean finding ways to support others and highlight the way many have risen to the occasion to care for the sick, the vulnerable and each other. My hope is that this will be a place of reflection on things thought, things read and things needed to help us combat these next months. As colleagues have shared, this is a marathon not a sprint. So welcome (or welcome back) to my leg of the marathon.
These past couple of months have been both a slow burn and a whirlwind at the same time. I finally realized this on Friday when everything began to boil over in my mind. Have I done enough? Is there ever such a thing as doing enough? Have I slowed down to grieve and remember? Have I begun to accept that with all we have done, not everything is in our control? I realized over the weekend in looking upon these questions that they continue to prove true something I recently came across. I have been trying to wrap my mind around the terms PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Moral Injury. In my research, I came across the following quote from “WHAT SPILLS BLOOD WOUNDS SPIRIT: CHAPLAINS, SPIRITUAL CARE, AND OPERATIONAL STRESS INJURY,” by Beth A. Stallinga,
During the work of ‘Remembrance and Mourning’, recollections will likely stir up feelings of guilt and shame as well as deep grief. Herman writes this: “In the aftermath of traumatic events, as survivors review and judge their own conduct, feelings of guilt and inferiority are practically universal.”41
I realized this point some weeks ago and came back to it again. I think trauma can very easily leads us into moments of self-doubt. I think this self-doubt can be dangerous because in the midst of the work, one doesn’t have the luxury of second guessing themselves. Yes, taking a pause is of utmost importance, and perhaps it is a good way to combat the compassion fatigue that comes with the constant barrage of emotions. Yet, I would also suggest that it must at times be tempered with a focus. Of course, having said that, my reality has been to find myself focused until I’m not and then second guessing myself until I can get back into focus.
The lesson I find myself coming back to in reflecting on these past couple of months is the lesson that we must find satisfaction in what we have done because while there could always be more, not doing more isn’t a sign of inadequacy.
The ups and downs of life are a constant. The challenge I find for people is the ability to experience the joys of life after being confronted with the myriad of loss that life brings. Below are some suggested approaches to finding Joy after Loss. The suggestions range from expressing one’s feelings to working towards perspective. All of these suggestions require an inner strength and resolve to integrate the loss into the fabric of one’s life and one’s story and are instant means of success.
How to Get Back Your Joy After Loss
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” – Jalaluddin Rumi
My belief is that you invest joy in yourself. No one can take it with them when they leave.
When you live in joy, finding appreciation in the seemingly trivial things in life, the quiet moments you share with others, in your accomplishments, pursuing your dreams, making full use of your talents and abilities, you grow your self-confidence, boost your self-esteem, and realize that you are whole and complete as you are.
This is joy and vibrancy in living.
But what do you do when you’ve already invested heavily in finding joy with someone other than yourself and they leave, either through death, fractured relationship, marital breakup, or separated by time and distance? Are you destined to remain bereft, lost, depressed, without purpose forever? What can you do to alleviate these powerful emotions and get back in resonance with yourself?
First, find someone you can talk honestly with about your feelings
This may be a loved one, a close friend, a spiritual advisor, a counselor or therapist. If you are seriously depressed after the joy source of your life leaves, professional counseling with a psychologist or psychotherapist may be the wisest initial choice.
What you’ll learn rather quickly is that you are not alone in these types of feelings. Being lost, without direction, lacking the desire or ability to smile and be present in the moment is a painful experience that many people have dealt with. I’ve lost both biological parents to death, along with a stepfather, a sibling, two aunts and four grandparents.
While each person experiences grief and loss differently, they must go through the various stages of grieving to move on. Sometimes they can’t do it on their own. Unresolved grief or protracted grief requires professional help. When in the depths of sadness and grief over loss it can seem impossible that joy can ever return. It can, although it will require time.
Second, be grateful for all the things that you have
This includes your health, a home, a job or career you find satisfying, good friends, money in the bank, the ability to travel, hobbies or recreational pursuits you enjoy. Besides being the things that most people would consider among the sources of success, they’re also hallmarks of a joyful and productive life. While you may be in the throes of some emotional pain and loss now, expressing your gratitude for the good things you have in life will help center you and firm up your foundation.
Third, start making plans
What do you most enjoy doing? Make a plan that includes that activity. Do you have a desire to travel? Start mapping out destinations and gathering information on the area. Is there a skill, hobby or recreational activity you want to learn? Are you interested in going back to finish a degree or obtain an additional one?
Telling yourself that you don’t have time, money, ability or anyone to do activities with is only an excuse to continue allowing your life to be joyless and unproductive. The only way you experience anything memorable and rewarding is to take proactive steps. Figure out what it is you want to do or explore or tackle, and make plans you can follow to achieve the outcome you desire. There’s a lot of joy inherent in being involved in pursuits and activities that help fulfill your life.
Fourth, get out there
Holing up at home won’t do anything to lift your mood. You need to be with people, even though that may be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, attempting to get over a breakup, or suffering other emotional, financial, physical or social loss.
The fact is that when you’re with others, you are less likely to be consumed with sadness and negative thoughts. Overcoming this deficit requires that you get out there and willingly interact with others. Not only will this help you to partially fill the void, it also returns a measure of control to your life. Instead of always reacting, you are being proactive.
As for overall healing, only time will do that.